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Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 07:57 GMT
Gentleman of Verona
By Chris Bevan

Verona striker Craig Davies
This is about growing up. Not every player at 20 has the chance I have got and it is a great opportunity
Craig Davies

Craig Davies' transfer from League Two outfit Oxford United to Italian Serie B side Hellas Verona was one of the more unlikely moves to take place during the January transfer window.

The 20-year-old Wales international striker could not even get in the U's side a month ago, but is now Britain's sole representative in Italy following his 85,000 switch.

Davies is yet to play a first-team game for his new club because of a lack of fitness caused by his inactivity during his final weeks at the Kassam Stadium.

BBC Sport finds out how he is adjusting to life in the sun.

A NEW START

Verona is very different to what I am used to.

But life is about trying things as well and there is no harm in trying a different culture.

This is about growing up. Not every player at 20 has the chance I have got. It is a great opportunity.

I am back in Wales next week to play for the Under-21s and then my girlfriend will be coming back here with me.

She will be learning a new way of life - and I am still learning as well.

EARLY DAYS

Family and friends are the main things I am missing, and my old daily routine.

CRAIG DAVIES FACTFILE
Age: 20
Born: Burton-on-Trent
Clubs: Verona (06- ) Oxford Utd (04 -06) Man City (03 -04)
Career starts: 26 (29 sub)
Career goals: 8
Wales caps: 1

Some days I am fine and I will not think about it, but other times it plays on my mind.

Earlier this week I really felt like I wanted to see my family, so I am still a bit homesick I suppose.

The first day I was here I signed on the Friday and had nothing to do until the Monday so they gave me the weekend to go home and say goodbye to people.

I got back to Italy on the Sunday and I was sitting in the hotel thinking 'I am not going to make it through'. That day really dragged on but Monday was totally different.

I had lots happening and I never really thought about Britain.

SETTLING IN

I like the food. A lot!

Here I am just constantly focused on my football. If I have a year or two like that then I am bound to improve.
Craig Davies

I would struggle to come back to England and eat what I used to because I have been eating very well over here. Pastas, meats - all sorts.

I moved into my new flat this week too.

And I am going to start driving over here but it is just a matter of getting used to the roads.

They drive on the wrong side of the road as far as I am concerned but I just have to get used to it - it is not difficult.

I have not experienced much sun yet though. I popped outside one night and it was pouring down - but they have told me the good weather starts in March so I hope it happens soon.

THE LANGUAGE GAP

I am having Italian lessons but it is not too much of a problem at the moment. The other players manage to communicate with me.

There are a couple of players at Verona who speak English - Jess Vanstrattan, who is an Australian goalkeeper and a Brazilian striker, Adailton.

The coach speaks a bit of English too so he helps me out but I have got to do my part by learning Italian.

NO DISTRACTIONS

I am only 20 and I have a lot of learning to do. There are a lot of things in my game that I need to improve.

Although I have friends in the dressing room here it is different to home. There I have friends who would come and see me and we would go out.

But here I am just constantly focused on my football. If I have a year or two like that then I am bound to improve.

When everybody is getting ready for training it is all laughing and joking - but when we get out there, it is so focused - and the changing room before a game is the same - it is unbelievable.

It is strange - you might expect it off one or two but it is the whole team.

Everybody in Italy is serious about things when it comes to football - it will help me a lot in my career.

I am still getting fit and it has been hard but I have confidence in myself.

Even if it take me the rest of the season to find my feet that will be okay. This season is just about learning how Italian football is played and getting in good shape physically and mentally - then I will be kicking on.




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