“I also had James Milner on loan from Leeds at the time, and they were two fantastic kids brought up well by their families and their managers. Without being derogatory to James, at the time Jimmy was a better player. I’m not saying that because Jimmy is no longer with us and it’s easier to speak about people when they’ve passed on; I would honestly say that Jimmy was a better prospect. He was the best prospect I’ve come across, without doubt.”
Predicting how far Davis could have gone in football is a thankless pursuit, given the numerous variables which can help or hinder burgeoning youngsters, but his attitude and application convinced everybody who knew him that he would go on to enjoy a career within the game.
“We all thought he had a bright future ahead of him,” says Bojan Djordjic, another former United team-mate. “Jimmy had pace, skill, flair… something to make him stand out. We all thought he’d make it. Maybe not at United, but he was going to have a decent career as a footballer.”
Davis was preparing for the next step in his career when he signed up to spend the 2003/04 season on loan at Watford. Webber was in the midst of completing a permanent move to the Hornets from United, and the pair were relishing the chance to reprise their partnership in the Championship. “We thought we’d be unstoppable,” laments Webber.
Instead, they would never start a competitive game together for Watford. Jimmy’s death shocked football, with the impact most keenly felt at Old Trafford, Vicarage Road and the County Ground. Full squads from all three clubs attended his funeral, while United’s players donned shirts bearing Jimmy’s surname and squad number after their FA Cup final triumph over Millwall at the end of the season.
“It was a team decision to dedicate the win to Jimmy,” says John O’Shea, another of Davis’ close cohorts within the club. “I can only imagine how tough it must have been for his family, who were losing a great lad who had so much to look forward to. Personally,