Retro: When Blades broke transfer record to sign Clade Davis

Neil Warnock and new signing Claude Davis
Neil Warnock and new signing Claude Davis
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Sheffield United staved off an 11th-hour bid by Premiership rivals Reading to sign Claude Davis on June 15 2006.

The Jamaican international became the most expensive player in the Blades’ history when he agreed to a £2.63m move from Preston North End.

The transfer followed weeks of negotiations between United manager Neil Warnock, the centre half’s agent and Deepdale chairman Derek Shaw.

But Reading, who beat United to the Championship title last season, attempted to hijack the deal by offering the 27-year-old a lucrative contract as he travelled across the Pennines for his medical at Bramall Lane.

Davis’s decision to reject Steve Coppell’s advances allowed Warnock to score a telling blow in the battle between the three newly-promoted clubs and underlined United’s determination to avoid an instant return to the Football League.

Watford, who beat Leeds United in the play-off final, had also made a tentative approach for his services but Warnock’s dogged determination proved crucial when it came to persuading Davis that his future lies in South Yorkshire.

“There were one or two others interested in him,” admitted Warnock, who was to continue his search for fresh talent by paying a second visit to the World Cup finals in Germany. “But I made sure that Claude gave me his word early on.

“David Kelly, my former assistant who worked with him at Preston, told me that he was the type of lad who wouldn’t go back on something like that. “Once he said yes, the business was done.”

Warnock said in the Green Un that Davis would prove his worth in gold.

Davis, who had made his 47th appearance for Jamaica against England earlier in the month, played 94 times for Preston after being spotted playing for semi-professional outfit Hazard United in 2003 and was a key member in ther side that finished fourth in the Championship last season.

Warnock revealed Davis had always been his target, despite making a tentative approach for Joleon Lescott, who joined Everton the previous month.

“Claude will get better and better,” said Warnock.

“He was a late developer and although there’s always room for improvement I’ve got no doubts he will settle in just nicely. He ticks all the right boxes. He’s big, strong, a battler and has a real hunger and desire to succeed.”