Davies Hails Influence Of 'Unbelievable' Rooney

Tom Davies says sharing a dressing room with “unbelievable” Wayne Rooney is a boon for his development – although going to work with one of his boyhood idols every day took some getting used to for the teenager.

Davies enjoyed a coming-of-age campaign last season, when he broke into Everton’s first-team and started 18 of the Blues’ final 19 Premier League matches.

He is just old enough to remember Rooney’s first incarnation as a Toffees player and fondly recalls the day 15 years ago when the then 16-year-old announced himself to the nation with a stunning late goal at Goodison Park to check a formidable Arsenal team’s 30-match undefeated run.

Davies introduced himself to the football public in similarly breathtaking style when he outwitted distinguished pair Yaya Toure and Gael Clichy, before determinedly cantering forward to clip an audacious finish past bamboozled goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in Everton’s 4-0 thumping of Manchester City in January.

And when Rooney returned to Everton in the summer after spending a decorated 13 years with Manchester United, 19-year-old Davies instinctively gravitated towards his fellow Toffees Academy graduate.

“Wayne has been great,” said Davies, speaking ahead of Everton's trip to Brighton on Sunday, when he will hope to make his eighth top-flight appearance this term. "It was kind of weird when he came back but then it felt quite natural that he was here. 

“It is quite strange, really, but just having him around every day is so good for the team – and for me because I can pick up little bits from him.

“Just seeing him there was quite surreal. But then once you got used to being around him it felt normal.

“He does (give me advice), especially when I’ve come off the pitch and I’m a bit unsure about my performance. He’ll have a chat with me about what’s happened and the game and stuff... it’s good for my development.”

As a young boy, Davies lived a stone’s throw from Everton’s old Bellefield training ground, the Club’s base before they decamped to plush Finch Farm in 2007.

He was raised an Evertonian and, while he is full of admiration for the medal haul Rooney amassed during his time at Old Trafford, the dynamic midfielder is eager to win his trophies wearing the royal blue jersey.

“If you look at Wayne’s career, it’s unbelievable really,” said Davies, scorer of the goal that sealed England Under-21s' 1-0 victory in Andorra on Tuesday. “He grew up supporting the club and when you look at all the stuff he has won, that is something I would love to do. 

“And to do it for Everton would be unbelievable. That’s something I would definitely like to do in my career. 

“The old training ground was two minutes in the car or a 10-minute walk from my house. I’ve lived in West Derby all my life and I can obviously remember Wayne. I was still young then but I remember his goal against Arsenal and stuff like that.”

Davies’s joyous strike against Manchester City, his compelling and effervescent playing style and distinctive appearance have combined to make him one of the Premier League’s most recognisable figures.

The strikingly mature youngster nevertheless remains firmly grounded. He still lives at home with his parents and leads what he describes as a “normal life”.

Davies did, though, make one concession to his enhanced status when, following his breakthrough season, he treated his family to a long-planned holiday in Australia. 

And it was when he was down under that the player had his eyes opened to the extent of his fame as one English football's brightest young stars.

“I took my family to Australia – my mum and dad, my brother, his girlfriend and one of our close family friends – we’ve got family out there and we’ve always talked about going, so we went this summer,” explains Davies. 

“My cousin has lived out there for 10 years or so. He’s got kids now and it was good to get out there and take the family with me.

“We were just laughing the whole time... being out there together and enjoying ourselves. We did some travelling and went to my cousin’s in Perth. We started there and then flew to Cairns. 

“There was one Australian guy when we went to Ayers Rock – as we were getting a flight to Sydney, he said ‘Are you Tom Davies?’ It was strange because we were in the middle of nowhere.”

If being recognised the best part of 10,000 miles from home came as a surprise, Davies, as is his wont, took the episode in his stride. He is, after all, exactly where he wants to be... both literally and figuratively speaking.  

"I’m just focused on here and I’m so happy (to be playing for Everton)," adds Davies. "I’m in a bit of a bubble, really, and just enjoying my life and the football."

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