As Hammarby made their last substitution in the 89th minute of Monday night's last Stockholm derby of the season, the green-and-white half of the crowd rose to its feet to give their United States striker a standing ovation. Charlie Davies had scored once and set up another goal in Hammarby's 3-0 win over city rivals Djurgårdens IF, and as chants of "Charlie! Charlie!" rang out, Davies was once again reminded of how his fortunes have changed since arriving in Sweden in early 2007.
"Everything seems to be clicking for me now," reflected Davies on the day after scoring his eleventh league goal of the season, and six days after scoring his first goal for the United States national side. "It's been a year when I've managed to show a bit of my potential," the 22-year-old told uefa.com.
If 2008 has been good to Davies, last year was very different. He came to 'Bajen' with high hopes, having scored 15 goals in 16 matches in his last season at Boston College. However, 25 matches into his first Allsvenskan season, Davies had not managed to score. A hat-trick in the last match of the 2007 campaign salvaged some pride, but for large parts of the Swedish media and fans, Hammarby's US import had failed to live up to expectations "I felt it more from my team-mates," explained Davies. "Like they didn't believe in me. And I myself got into a state where I didn't want to take shots. I'd start passing the ball to someone else."
At the lowest point of last year, Davies sat down for a serious talk with Hammarby coach Tony Gustavsson. Gustavsson declared his faith in Davies, but gave him two options: either to quit and look for a different team or to dig deep and fight even harder. Davies chose the second option, and he feels that his game has improved in "every dimension" since then.
During his first season in Sweden, Davies had another person who kept pushing him in training – Uruguayan midfielder Sebastián Eguren. Eguren is now firmly established at Villarreal CF in Spain, but was a Hammarby player until January 2008. "Sebastián would always remind me not to relax, never to be content," said Davies. "It's amazing. One day you're training with a guy, next week he's playing [FC] Barcelona. It just proves it can be done."
Davies, who has two years remaining on his contract in Sweden, mentions England, Spain and France as three examples of where he would like to see himself in the future. "I think Hammarby also want to help me achieve my goals," he said. One goal was reached when he was selected for the US Olympic team in Beijing. Since then, Davies has been involved in his first FIFA World Cup qualifiers, and next summer he hopes to fulfil his next ambition. "To play the Confederations Cup would be a great experience. Facing world-class opposition, getting a taste of South Africa and the build-up to the World Cup." Clearly, Davies has every intention of keeping things clicking.
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