Swans and Dragons: Alan Davies
In a new website feature, we look back at former Swansea City players who have also turned out for Wales at full international level.
And to kick off our feature, we focus on a player who made 127 league appearances and scored 12 goals in two separate spells with the Swans between 1987 and 1992. He also earned 13 international caps for Wales between 1983 and 1990.
As a teenager, Manchester-born Alan Davies fulfilled the dream harboured by so many youngsters as he began training with Manchester United.
He would go on to enjoy a fine career in professional football, yet his life would come to a tragic end at a desperately early age.
Discovered by the club in 1976, the winger was 16 years old when he signed as a trainee in July 1978. Just five months later, he put pen to paper on his first professional contract.
Prior to making his debut for Manchester United, Davies won four of his seven Wales Under-21 caps.
He qualified to play for the Dragons through his Welsh parents, with his first appearance coming in a 2-0 victory over France Under-21s at Newport County’s former Somerton Park ground.
He lined up alongside Swans youngsters Dudley Lewis, Chris Marustik and future manager Kenny Jackett in that game.
Davies made his long awaited first-team debut for the Red Devils in a 1-0 home victory over Southampton on May 1, 1982.
It was the first of 10 competitive appearances he would make for the Old Trafford club.
He spent the majority of the 1982-83 season turning out for Manchester United’s reserves but an injury to Steve Coppell towards the end of the campaign saw him step up into first-team action once again.
Just his second appearance for the club came in a 2-1 victory over Swansea City on May 7, 1983.
Davies was subsequently included for league matches against Luton Town and Notts County prior to starting both FA Cup final matches against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Ron Atkinson’s men triumphed 4-0 in the replay on May 26, 1983, a win which earned Davies the first and only major medal of his career.
Just five days later, Davies made his full international debut for Wales in a 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland at Windsor Park.
Gordon Davies of Fulham scored the winning goal as the Dragons sealed their only triumph in the British Home Championship that season.
Despite limited playing time during his time at Old Trafford, Davies featured in some big matches.
His only goal for the club came in a 1-1 draw with Juventus in the European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final first leg.
A 1-1 draw at Everton in May 1984 proved to be his final United appearance prior to a transfer to Newcastle United.
Davies made 13 appearances for Wales between 1983 and 1990.
He played the full 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Brazil at Ninian Park in June 1983 against a team skippered by the great Socrates.
He was also included in the line-up for the 1-0 victory over England in Wrexham in May 1984 and a triumph over an Italy side that included the likes of Walter Zenga, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Gianluca Vialli in Brescia in 1988.
Davies made just 21 league appearances for Newcastle, between 1985 and 1987, and was loaned to Charlton Athletic and Carlisle United during his time with the Magpies.
He became a first-team regular on moving to Swansea, though, with his debut coming in a 2-0 victory at Stockport County on August 15, 1987.
Perhaps his finest display in a Swans shirt came as he scored in a 3-3 draw at Torquay United in the Fourth Division play-off final second leg.
His goal was enough to seal a 5-4 aggregate success and promotion for the Swans.
Following Terry Yorath’s departure as manager in 1989 to take the top job at Bradford City, Davies followed him to Valley Parade after 84 league appearances and eight goals for the Swans.
Yorath promptly returned to manage Swansea for a second spell in 1990 and Davies followed him back to the Vetch.
He made his second debut for the club against Leyton Orient in August 1990 – one of a further 43 league games he played for the Swans through until 1992, in which scored four times.
In March 1990, Davies made what was to prove his final appearance for Wales in a 1-0 friendly defeat away to the Republic of Ireland.
He remained a key player for the Swans in a team that largely struggled at the wrong end of the Third Division in the early 1990s.
The club and the wider footballing community was rocked on February 4, 1992 with the news that Davies had committed suicide, aged just 30.
He was found in a fume-filled car in Horton, near Swansea. Davies had turned out for the Swans only 10 days earlier in a 3-2 win at West Bromwich Albion.
A benefit match was played in Davies’ memory at the Vetch in August 1992.
Fittingly, his first club, Manchester United, were the Swans’ opponents that evening.