Lorenzo Davids will be looking to follow in the footsteps of his idol and cousin Edgar when he represents the Netherlands for the first time on Friday.
For a player taking his first steps in the game, having a cousin as well-known as Edgar Davids leaves a lot to live up to. Comparisons with the AFC Ajax and Netherlands great are inevitable. Lorenzo Davids, though, takes it all in his stride. After he was named in the Netherlands Under-21 squad for the first time, Oranje supporters could be cheering the Davids name long after Edgar retires.
The 21-year-old Lorenzo is 13 years Edgar's junior, too young to have played with his relative as he was growing up. Watching Edgar on television and listening to the stories his family told about him, was enough to make the Ajax man his idol. "As a small boy I always heard Edgar was a great player," Lorenzo said. "That's what I wanted to become as well, and that's why I always went out on the streets with a ball under my arm. In the neighbourhood around Ajax's old De Meer stadium, I played with guys like Hedwiges Maduro, Ryan Babel and Urby Emanuelson, who all made it to the Ajax first team."
Only one Davids
Later, Lorenzo would speak to Edgar often. "He told me I have to work really hard," he said. "But when I speak to him, we talk about more than just football." Lorenzo did not follow Edgar's example to the letter. Edgar had started out at Ajax; Lorenzo's big break came with their rivals Feyenoord. Feyenoord fans did not hold his family ties against him, singing: "There's only one real Davids." "That was quite a relief," admitted Lorenzo.
Lorenzo was born in Paramaribo, the capital of Surinam, and moved to Rotterdam with his family aged four. From there they went to Amsterdam and he played for a succession of smaller clubs before earning a place in the FC Utrecht youth set-up, before being scouted by Feyenoord. He appeared once for the Rotterdam side before being transferred to NEC Nijmegen last January. Here he was reunited with Mario Been, his coach at Jong Feyenoord, who gave him Eredivisie debut in February.
Under Been, Lorenzo has established himself in the NEC team, playing either left or central midfield and also helping out in defence. He has leadership qualities, having captained Jong Feyenoord, and is a tenacious scrapper in his cousin's mould. Nijmegen have struggled in the Eredivisie this term, picking up just four points from seven games, but even in a losing cause Lorenzo has caught the eye.
Though he has yet to represent the Netherlands in a competitive fixture, he was involved with Foppe de Haan's squad before last summer's UEFA European U21 Championship. Now, having been called up officially for the first time, he is keen to make his mark as the defending champions take on Estonia on Friday as qualifying Group 5 leaders. "That's something to really look forward to," Lorenzo said. "It's a huge honour to be part of the squad given the status of the Jong Oranje."