With well over five million views on Youtube, Rhain Davis, became the most watched Australian footballer on the Internet. As a nine year old, he captured the attention of global media and the football public when his grandfather sent a highlights video to Sir Alex Ferguson that led to football giants Manchester United signing the precocious talent.
While everyone marveled at the ability one so young possessed, it was also tempered by a degree of concern as to what that much pressure and expectation could do to a child. The now 18 year old though has no regrets and insists the positives outweighed the negatives, citing the support of his family as being important.
“To be honest it was a new adventure for me and my family and they supported me thoroughly,” the Brisbane-born midfielder told Football Central.
“Of course I felt pressure but in a way it seemed to drive me further, knowing I had to perform is how I enjoyed it. I can truthfully say I have no regrets in the journey I have taken.
“I was committed to it all and wouldn’t have done it differently.”
Through his mother, Leah he was able to obtain a UK passport and he and his father Mark moved to Cheshire, England as he chased the dream of every young footballer. United came under fire too for signing a player so young especially from another country and released the below statement at the time Rhain joined them:
Manchester United signs up to 30 boys aged nine for the under-10s of its academy in line with the rules that govern Premier League academies. The club has at all times conducted itself in accordance with academy rules. All academy students operate under the same conditions and the same discipline and application is expected of them. Manchester United is proud of its history of developing talented young players and invests considerable time and resources in trying to find the best young players of the future.
Davis would spend the next seven years with the Red Devils and with the outside attention dying down to a few “whatever happened?” queries popping up intermittently on-line, the youngster was able to focus on his football. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Rhain with his resolve being tested after a shocking injury that eventually led to him being released.
“Breaking my leg and getting released after seven years was the lowest point I have had,” admitted Davis.
“Breaking my leg was the primary reason why I was let go but I’m not going to use that as an excuse.”
One could’ve forgiven the young man who carried the weight of expectation from the football world on his shoulders for giving up but it was never an option.
“No I never thought of quitting football,” insisted the teenager.
“It was what I had enjoyed since I can remember, so that thought never came across my mind.
“It’s important for all footballers to keep themselves motivated, it’s not all about external pressure. Players need to drive and keep themselves going. In my case my motivation comes from my family, the thought that I brought them here to England is enough to keep me motivated.”
Now he finds himself still in Manchester but now the youngest member of the first team at National League side Altrincham FC. He says he has settled in well thanks to a great group of people at the club and is looking to establish himself in the first team before giving back to his family for all their support.
“The move from United to Altrincham was a simple one. The staff and players welcomed me and being the youngest there helped, as they took extra care of me.
“I get along with everyone at the club and am looking forward to working hard and improving.
“My short term goals are to break into the current Altrincham team and really make a name for myself at a high level. My long term goal is to make a healthy living from the game to support my family and my parents through football.”
Having left Australia at such a young age he’d be forgiven for not spending too much time looking back but he still feels connected to his country of birth. He doesn’t rule out Australia as being a part of not only his footballing past but also his future.
“One day I’d love to come back and play in Australia,” said Davis.
“I still have family there, so moving back wouldn’t be a problem. However, having said that I have a great life here with good career paths, so it would need a lot of thinking.
“Of course I feel connected. That’s where I was born and I’ll always feel strongly towards Australia. Even after a lot of traveling, it’s still my favourite place.”