Born in Germany, a rugby background and a Sheffield Wednesday spell... Who is incoming Sheffield United goalkeeper Adam Davies?

Paul Heckingbottom’s wish to be reunited with Adam Davies, his former Barnsley goalkeeper, is close to being granted after the Stoke City man underwent a medical at Sheffield United.

Monday, 24th January 2022, 2:39 pm

Davies will arrive for a nominal fee ahead of the expiry of his contract at Stoke in the summer, after expressing a wish to link up with Heckingbottom again at Bramall Lane.

But who is he, where else has he been and what will he bring to Bramall Lane?

Early days

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Despite later representing Wales at international level, Davies was born in the town of Rinteln in north-west Germany. His father was stationed in the armed forces and on returning to England, the Davies family settled in Warrington.

Davies also played rugby league at school and played in the same team as ex-Warrington Wolves half-back Gareth O’Brien, before deciding to focus on his football career. He was named Warrington’s U16 sports personality of the year in 2007.

At 14, he joined Everton and was named their academy player of the year in 2009/10, joining the Toffees first team on their pre-season tour of America in 2011.

Billy Sharp of Sheffield United looks at Adam Davies of Barnsley following his save at Oakwell: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

But he was released without making a first-team appearance and made his first journey to Sheffield…

A spell on the dark side

Davies was signed by United’s city rivals Wednesday on a month-to-month deal, to provide cover for their No.1 goalkeeper Chris Kirkland. But don’t hold it against him – he stayed for two seasons in the end but again didn’t play a first-team game, before signing for Barnsley after leaving Hillsborough.

His long-awaited first taste of senior football came at 22 with the Reds, and he went on to play over 200 times for Barnsley – including a time under Heckingbottom, when he led his hometown club to a promotion and Football League Trophy double at Wembley.

Davies played for Stoke at Bramall Lane earlier this season: Alistair Langham / Sportimage

Later named Barnsley’s captain, Davies helped the Reds again win promotion to the Championship in 2018/19 before joining Stoke that summer.

Enter the dragon

Davies has two caps for Wales, after making his debut in 2019 in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago. He won his second cap in an away victory in Bulgaria the following year, and was named in the Wales squad for last summer’s European Championships.

Why is he coming here?

The move may raise eyebrows considering that Davies has played 12 of Stoke’s 26 league games so far this season, so is hardly out of favour. But Michael O’Neill has four goalkeepers to call upon and with Davies out of contract in the summer, is prepared look to the future and save on wages.

Davies is also understood to see this as a good opportunity, to come in and challenge Wes Foderingham for the No.1 shirt. The pair’s statistics this season are actually quite similar – both have outperformed their expected conceded goals, meaning they have saved more than they should, and although Foderingham has faced marginally more shots per 90 minutes, their saves-per-game ratios are very similar (2.23 for Davies and 2.48 for Foderingham).

What’s been said?

Michael O’Neill (Stoke boss): “It is not really a decision that has been taken as a reflection on Adam, it is more so the situation we are in with Joe Bursik getting closer to fitness. The finance … is maybe better utilised in other areas."