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Black History Month: The incredible career of The Pitbull

Edgar Davids wore dreads, goggles, and played with tenacity in the middle of the field.

Soccer 2004 - Euro Championships Photo by Christina Pahnke/Sampics/Corbis via Getty Images

Edgar Davids is one of the greatest players in our lifetime. Born in Suriname, he’s better known as the former midfielder for The Netherlands whose superior strength and tenacious play made him a dominant force in world soccer for several years. His play made him known by many as “The Pitbull.”

Davids had it all. He had power, speed, strength, stamina, and had an incredible work rate. He could adapt to any style of play and give a team exactly what it needed, from being a defensive midfielder to a box-to-box midfielder. In his youth, he was became proficient in soccer on the streets and in his freestyle ability. He brought that creativity to the field, allowing him to control the ball through tight spaces and have the balance to also beat you with a quick flick of the ball into the air and juggling it as he blew right past you.

Davids began his club career in 1991 with Ajax, the club where he started as a boy. He was there for 5 years, scoring 31 goals for the club. He then made a move to Italy, joining AC Milan for a couple years before making another move to Juventus in 1997.

His signature style was long dreadlocks and tinted goggles. He wore the goggles after undergoing surgery in 1999 for glaucoma in his right eye. He won a rare exemption from FIFA to wear the goggles during matches as well as use an eye wash that contained a substance banned by the International Olympic Committee. He embraced those goggles, making it a part of his style. Because of his popularity, many fans around the world wore goggles on the field to pay homage, despite the fact that he wore them because of his eye condition.

Davids remained at Juventus for 7 seasons, his most successful stop. There, he won 3 Scudettos and 2 Supercoppa Italias. In 2003, he went on loan for one season at Barcelona before returning to Italy for a year at Inter Milan. After the year, he moved to England to join Tottenham Hotspur. Davids had a second stop at Ajax along with stints at Crystal Palace and Barnet FC before retiring in 2014.

On the Dutch national team, Davids made his debut in 1994, and quickly became an integral part of the team for a decade. While the Dutch never won any major trophies while Davids was on the team, they had the reputation as one of the best teams in the world. Davids was a major reason for that, with his excellent passing and crossing abilities along with being able to win possession and push the ball forward to his teammates. His versatility meant that he could play every position in the midfield, sometimes even featuring as a second striker or at left back. He made 74 appearances for the Oranje, scoring 6 goals in his career. His international career came to an end in 2005.

During his career, Edgar Davids hoisted a lot of trophies. He won 3 Eredivisie titles, 2 KNVB Cups, a Champions League with Ajax, a UEFA Cup, a UEFA Super Cup, and an Intercontinental Cup. He also won the 3 Serie A trophies with Juventus. In 2004, Pelé named him to the FIFA 100, his list of the greatest 100 players of all time.

Edgar Davids was tenacious yet creative, a nimble pitbull who could destroy you in any way with the ball. His style will make him unforgettable, but his play on the field is what makes him a legend.


For more Black History Month stories, check out our Black History Month hub. We will be bringing a story each day this month to highlight some of the biggest moments in black American and world soccer history.