Derby County secured their Championship status on a remarkable final day of the season.
Wayne Rooney’s side knew they needed to match Rotherham’s result, providing they avoided defeat, to stay in the division, and they did that in dramatic fashion, with the Millers conceding a late equaliser whilst Martyn Waghorn struck a 78th minute penalty to bring Derby level against Sheffield Wednesday.
The second half of the Rams game kicked off around ten minutes after the Rotherham fixture due to an injury in the first half, so Derby knew they a point was enough, whilst a defeat would’ve sent them down.
So, Rooney decided to bring defender Curtis Davies on for the final nine minutes, with the centre-back a calming influence as the pressure built. He won a few key headers and organised the team, with Derby hanging on to the draw.
"Curtis hasn’t trained. He’s not fit. He’s a real example to other players. I said ‘could you head a ball’ he said ‘yes’ – he organised us, and headed a few balls away. I think he deserves a lot of praise."
𝗟 𝗘 𝗔 𝗗 𝗘 𝗥 🖤 pic.twitter.com/KZHi4pFczD
— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) May 8, 2021
And, speaking to the club’s official media, Rooney heaped praise on the defender, who hadn’t played since December through serious injury. Not only that, but the boss also revealed Davies hadn’t even trained.
Therefore, it’s fair to say he put his body on the line for the team and that attitude delighted the fans.
Here we look at some of the reaction from Twitter…
Genuinely in 36 years of watching Derby @TheCurtisDavies is right up there as one of my favourite ever Derby players massive respect 👊
— Club99 (@Club9910) May 8, 2021
A great leader . His best days behind him but a lot of these so called Pros could learn a lot from him
— Johnny B (@BodellDaygo66) May 8, 2021
Curtis Davies is the epitome of a proper Footballer and as a Derby County fan he has my utmost respect as does Wayne Rooney for keeping us up after everything that has been thrown at him, in his first Managerial role👏👏
— Roger Bolstridge (@DarleysNo6) May 8, 2021
Some bloke. Thanks Curtis you ledge.
— stephen. (@dcfcstephen) May 8, 2021
hero. Needs a year extension. The sort of leading character we’ll need next year
— Joel Moore (@jmDCFC) May 8, 2021
Build the statue !! What a true top top professional 🐏 Another contract and a coaching role . Leader
— John Byrne 🏴 (@derbytrim) May 8, 2021
He is an inspiration,he exudes confidence to the players around him.I hope to goodness he is offered a job at Derby!,
Rooney has to stay too!!!
— Aunt Josephine (@josephine_aunt) May 8, 2021