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Football League

From Barcelona to Barnet: Edgar Davids joins worst team in the Football League in order to 'help English football'


Edgar Davids, the former Ajax, Juventus and Barcelona midfielder had declared he has taken the managerial post at Barnet to "help English football".

The Dutchman stunned the football world when it was announced last night that he was joining the team currently propping up the Football League.

The 39-year-old joins in a player/coach capacity and could make his debut for the League Two side within a fortnight.

It was a shock move for the 74-time-capped Netherlands international, who has been out of professional football since a brief stint playing for Crystal Palace in 2010. Since then he has been in charge of Sunday league team Brixton United, with whom he explained today he had won two trophies, and kept fit by playing street soccer.

After joining up with the squad for training today, Davids spoke to the media.

"When I look at the English team and I see them play, I'm not a great fan," he said.

"I know they have talent but it's not developing right now. It needs a lot of work.

"I played for Barcelona, for Ajax, where it's important to develop and integrate young talent.

"In this country, they need to think about that. Invest in youth.

"I played street soccer, that's where I started. If you look at South America, that's why they have technical players."

Davids, known for wearing standout protective glasses, who will be joint head coach alongside incumbent Mark Robson in what has been described as an "equal partnership",added: "I am trying to help English football be more diverse."

Robson has endured a tough time since taking over at the Underhill Stadium in the summer, with the club rock bottom of the table and still to win a game this season after eleven matches.

There has been speculation that Davids will eventually replace him but this was dismissed by both the Dutchman and Barnet's director of football Paul Fairclough.

"We could have already done that. So why wait?," said Davids.

"I believe Mark and I can pull it off. We will have some fights but the bottom line is to fight to get results."

Fairclough, who said Barnet did not break the bank to sign Davids, added: "There are cynics in football.

"Ninety-nine per cent of football clubs would have sacked their head coach by now but we have faith in Mark and feel he is a perfect fit for the club.

"It's a job for life for Mark with his ability as he is a highly qualified technical coach."

The news of Davids' appointment was broken last night by the player when he tweeted: "Happy to say I will join my local football club Barnet fc as a player/coach."

Barnet survived on the last day of last season and despite doing away with former manager Martin Allen and replacing him with Robson, the Bees have continued to struggle, leading the hierarchy to turn to Davids.

"The capture of Davids is a statement of intent by our club to improve results and lay further foundations for the future," said Fairclough in a statement released on the club's website.

"Edgar is a world renowned footballer and will be a great example to all our young players."

In a glittering career, Davids won the Champions League, Uefa Cup, three Serie A titles and three in the Dutch Eredivisie. Along with Ajax, Juventus and Barcelona, Davids also played for AC Milan, Inter and Tottenham.

He first retired from football when his second stint at Ajax ended in 2008, but had a three-month spell at Palace in 2010 in which he made six league appearances.

It came as something of a surprise that Davids resurfaced at Barnet, with it being explained today that he was approached last month and invited to visit the club's state-of-the-art training ground - which is on the Dutchman's doorstep. He was eventually offered the job, and although for a player with such a glamorous background, Davids is happy to be starting his managerial career at the bottom.

"Marco van Basten did it at an amateur level and there are a lot of coaches that started low," he said.

"We will see if I have the capabilities of reaching the highest level. Do I want that?

"I saw [Pep] Guardiola and [Frank] Rijkaard when they started and saw them age with grey hair.

"I'm too good looking for that so want to stay here."

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