Bangor City FC's Les Davies was as surprised as anyone to discover that he had made the 32-man long list for the UEFA Best Player In Europe Award.
"I didn't think life could get much better," said Davies, whose wife Nicola gave birth to a daughter, Lucie Haf, on Sunday. "Then I got wind of this. I didn't think in a million years that I would ever see my name alongside players like Xavi, Messi and Van Persie."
A jury of journalists from each of UEFA's 53 member associations has provided a list of their best-ranked players, and while the likes of Andrés Iniesta, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Balotelli feature prominently, Davies's presence is proof that even more modest talents can be regarded as great players.
A club spokesman said of Davies, the league's third-highest scorer with 16 goals from 30 appearances last season: "Les is a very popular player and a popular personality. For a big fellow he's skilful on the ground as well as the air. He lives locally, is always willing to take part in community activities, and the supporters love him."
The 27-year-old is currently enjoying his second spell with the north Wales outfit, and has proved a key performer in one of the most successful periods in Bangor's history. A tall and powerful left-winger-turned-centre forward, 'The Truck' first came to Bangor's attention when he gave a compelling display against them in a Welsh Cup tie in the 2003/04 season, which saw his side – Glantraeth FC – triumph against the odds. Shortly after, Bangor coach Peter Davenport signed him for the Citizens.
Five goals in 17 starting appearances in his first season underlined the wisdom behind the move but after another productive year in front of goal, Davies was on the move again, switching to local rivals Portmadog FC. Born and raised in Bangor, the local club was Davies' natural home. Soon after being appointed as manager, Neville Powell brought Davies back in June 2007, a reunion that had benefits for the player – voted the supporters' player of the season for the last two years – and team alike.
In his first season back, Bangor lifted the Welsh Cup, the start of a remarkable period which saw them retain the prize for the following two seasons. Their run came to an end in the 2010/11 campaign but ample compensation came in the shape of a first Welsh Premier League title for 16 years.
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