Merseyside has an unrivalled track record of breeding Premier League legends. From Michael Owen to Steven Gerrard to Wayne Rooney, Everton and Liverpool still thrive when it comes to developing elite homegrown talent, while many of the other top flight clubs have grown stale in that department and relied on imports from overseas instead.
18-year-old Tom Davies is the latest spark to fly from Everton's production line and he confirmed his arrival on the world stage with a stunning performance – and goal – against Manchester City's galaxy of superstars in January 2017. What followed next was every kid's dream; a spree of back page headlines, a 'Team of the Week' card on FIFA Ultimate Team and being placed front and centre in adidas Football's latest campaign.
As he unveiled the Blue Blast pack for adidas Football's ACE17 and X17, Tom Davies invited us into his extraordinary world to share his story so far.
How does it feel to be one of the Premier League’s new breakthrough stars?
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind but it’s definitely been all good stuff. I’m just trying to take each moment as it comes and enjoy every bit of it.
The big moment that stands out is you goal against Manchester City. What was running through your mind as the ball hit the back of the net?
I think it was a dream. I’ve always dreamed of that moment. When I picked the ball up in the box, I thought I’d gone as far as I could with it but to then actually have the chance to finish it off – it was something I’d dreamed about. To get my first goal at Goodison was something I couldn’t have wished to be any better.
It must have been pretty special to do that against Manchester City too, given some of the players they’ve got…
Definitely. They’ve got some amazing players and to be in a side that beat them 4-0 is a great achievement for me and as a lad growing up watching the Premier League – watching players like Silva, Yaya Toure, Aguero – they’ve been in it for years and won the Premier League. To play against them was an accomplishment in itself, it gave me a chance to see where I was as a player.
How did your family and friends react to that game?
They couldn’t believe it and neither could I! They were all made up for me and after that game we went out and had some food, just celebrated really.
For your friends in particular – perhaps the guys you grew up with locally and went to school with – it must be mad…
I think so, yeah. They’re all really happy for me and they want me to do well. I think the lad that’s closest with me and my brother, he’s an Evertonian, so it’s great for him. I’m living his dream as well as mine so he’s always there asking me how I’m getting on and that’s great to have.
Like all young players now you’ve grown up only knowing the Premier League. What’s your earliest memory of football?
It’s a hard one. I think the memory that holds most is seeing my uncle’s [Alan Whittle] championship medal that he won with Everton. That’s what I always remember, seeing that for the first time, and wishing one day I’d have something similar. That’s something I can still achieve and hopefully one day I will.
Who are the players you looked up to and admired as a youngster?
I always remember Mikel Arteta when he was playing for Everton. He was an amazing player and some of the goals he’d score or set up in games…it was the sort of stuff you’d try and recreate the next day with your mates. I even admired players like Tim Cahill who didn’t play in my position but scored great goals and made contributions all over the pitch.
Have you had any moments in your career where you’ve had to pinch yourself?
I think the City game. In the tunnel I looked across and I’ve got Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and John Stones standing next to me. It’s kind of like you’re playing FIFA and you’re looking at them thinking you shouldn’t be there, really. Then you get out onto the pitch and it all becomes real, it’s not something you can put into words. You’ve got to experience it to understand.
You mentioned FIFA just then, do you play?
Yeah, definitely. All the time with my mates.
So how did it feel to get your own 'Team of the Week' card a few weeks back?
(Laughs) Yeah it was mad! There was that and another of the lads from Everton, Callum Connolly, got one in the same week so we were messaging each other and couldn’t believe it. I obviously bought my own card so now I’m playing with the In-Form in my Premier League team!
How excited are you to be working with adidas, who are doing so many amazing things right now in sport and beyond?
I’ve always loved the brand. For them to sponsor me and give me the boots to live this life, it’s something you only ever dream about but it’s actually happening.
Have you been an adidas lifer? Did you have a favourite pair of boots growing up?
Oh yeah, I always used to wear the Predators with the fold-over tongue. When they went out, it was the adiPures that I really, really liked and I wore those when I started playing for Everton. I also wore adiPures in my first game for England so I’ll never forget them.
You’re wearing adidas ACE17 currently and the new ‘Blue Blast’ pack just dropped. How are you feeling in your current boots?
I’m enjoying them. They’re different to what’s been seen before but with adidas that’s the way things are going. It’s a modern boot and big things are happening around it, I’m glad to be part of it.
What interests you away from the field of play?
Food! I like going into town and getting something to eat with my friends and family and listening to music, too.
What’s on your pre-match playlist right now?
I actually like to relax before a game so recently I’ve been listening to Bob Marley before games. That’s on my personal playlist.
Finally, what’s the goal for you and Everton this season?
I just want to keep my place in the side and help the team out as much as I can. We’re pretty close to Man United now and I’m hoping we can catch them and then see how far high we can climb. We’ve just got to keep winning.
Tom Davies wears the adidas ACE17 Blue Blast designed for ultimate ball control. Find more at adidas.co.uk/football.