The biography of Edgar Davids, the Dutch football legend

The biography of Edgar Davids, the Dutch football legend

Kenneth Mwenda
updated at February 7, 2024 at 6:40 PM
In this article:
AFC Ajax logo
AFC Ajax
Netherlands
36
FC Barcelona logo
FC Barcelona
Spain
35
Juventus logo
Juventus
Italy
31
Tottenham Hotspur logo
Tottenham Hotspur
England
38
Netherlands logo
Netherlands
Netherlands
23

Edgar Davids, a footballer renowned for his distinct style and formidable presence on the pitch, carved out an illustrious career that spanned several top European clubs. Born in Suriname, he moved to the Netherlands at a young age, where he developed his passion for football.

Photos of Edgar Davids, a former Netherlands footballer
From L-R: Edgar at The May Fair Hotel on February 12, 2014, in London. Edgar during the UEFA Euro on June 30, 2004, in Lisbon. Photos: David M. Benett/Richard Sellers (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

His career took him through the ranks of the Netherlands national team, AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, and Tottenham Hotspur, among others, earning him a reputation as one of the most dynamic midfielders of his time. This information has been sourced from a comprehensive review of Edgar Davids' professional football career up to April 2023.

Profile summary

Name

Edgar Steven Davids

Date of birth

March 13, 1973

Age

50 years old (as of 2023)

Place of birth

Paramaribo, Suriname

Nationality

Dutch

Position

Central midfielder

Height

1.69 meters

Youth career

Ajax Youth Academy

Senior club debut

Ajax Amsterdam, 1991

International debut

Netherlands National Team, April 20, 1994

Notable clubs

Ajax, Juventus, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspur

Total international caps/goals

74 caps / 6 goals

Net worth

$1 to 5 million

Social media

Instagram

Edgar Davids' brief bio

Edgar Davids (50 years as of 2023) is Dutch and also of Afro-Surinamese and Jewish descent from his mother and grandmother's side. Edgar was born on 13 March 1973 in Suriname, a former Dutch colony, but moved to the Netherlands at a young age and grew up there.

Facts about Edgar Davids
Edgar Davids of Juventus in action during the Champions League match against Dynamo Kiev at Delle Alpi Stadium in Turin, Italy, on September 24, 2002. Photo: Alex Livesey (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Edgar Davids' football career

Despite initial setbacks of being turned away twice, Edgar commenced his journey with Ajax at the age of 12, demonstrating early on his unwavering determination. He was also heavily invested in tricking his rivals with nutmegs.

He made a striking first impression with the senior team on September 6, 1991, contributing to a 5–1 victory over RKC Waalwijk. His time at Ajax was marked by significant achievements, including the clinching of three Eredivisie titles and pivotal victories in European competitions, notably the 1992 UEFA Cup and the 1995 UEFA Champions League.

Which position did Edgar play?

Davids played as a midfielder. Despite a challenging moment in the 1996 Champions League final, where he missed a crucial penalty in the shootout against Juventus, Davids' tenure at Ajax was transformative. He got the nickname "The Pitbull" from manager Louis van Gaal, a testament to his aggressive and tenacious midfield play.

Edgar Davids at Juventus
Edgar Davids of Juventus during the Champions World Soccer Series against Manchester United at the Giants Stadium on July 31, 2003 in East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA. Photo: Simon Bruty
Source: Getty Images

Italian odyssey in AC Milan and Juventus

Embracing a new challenge, Davids transferred to AC Milan in the 1996–97 season under the Bosman ruling, a move that saw him playing alongside teammate Michael Reiziger. However, this phase was marred by an unfortunate leg injury during a match against Perugia and an overall tough season for Milan.

This led to his mid-season transfer to Juventus in December 1997. Explaining in a 2010 interview with FourFourTwo just how difficult that period was for him, he stated:

That was one of the worst times I have ever had because you do not speak the language very well. You are sitting at home with your television, but you cannot really understand it. In the first couple of weeks, you cannot move with your leg because you are afraid of thrombosis. It was bad. It helped that every couple of weeks, I was driven to Amsterdam because that is where I was recuperating.
Edgar Davids wearing glasses
Edgar Davids prior to the UEFA Champions League quarter-final match between Juventus FC and Ajax Amsterdam at the Allianz Arena on April 15, 2019, in Turin, Italy. Photo: VI Images
Source: Getty Images

At Juventus, Davids quickly cemented his position as a midfield maestro, often playing as a defensive midfielder. His dynamic partnership with Zinedine Zidane in midfield was a key element in Juventus' successes, which included Serie A titles in 1998, 2002, and 2003, as well as two Supercoppa Italiana and a UEFA Intertoto Cup.

Barcelona loan

In January 2004, Davids joined Barcelona on loan from Juventus. Arriving at a critical time when the team was struggling, his influence was immediate and pivotal, steering Barcelona to a second-place finish in La Liga.

Edgar Davids at Tottenham
Edgar Davids (L) of Tottenham Hotspur and Ray Parlour of Middlesbrough FC challenge during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane on August 20, 2005 in London, England. Photo: Richard Sellers
Source: Getty Images

Stints at Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur

Davids's journey then took him to Inter Milan in the summer of 2004 and later to Tottenham Hotspur in August 2005. This was after Inter terminated his contract.

Return to Ajax

Davids returned to Ajax in January 2007, reasserting his influence in the midfield and playing a crucial role in both the league and cup campaigns. He notably scored the winning penalty in the KNVB Cup final against AZ.

However, an injury in a pre-season friendly affected his 2007–08 season. He announced his departure from Ajax in May 2008. His later career saw him participating in an exhibition match against LA Galaxy and engaging in contract negotiations with Leicester City, though these did not materialise.

Edgar Davids at Crystal Palace
Edgar Davids of Crystal Palace (C) controls the ball from Akos Buzsaky (L) of Queens Park Rangers during the match at Selhurst Park on October 2, 2010 in London, England. Photo: Jan Kruger
Source: Getty Images

Final stints at Crystal Palace and Barnet

In August 2010, Davids embarked on a new adventure with Crystal Palace, signing a pay-as-you-play deal. He debuted against Portsmouth in the League Cup. His short stint at the club was a memorable experience, as he later described it as "one of the greatest experiences of my life" before announcing his departure in November 2010.

Edgar Davids took up a dual role as player-manager at League Two club Barnet on October 11, 2012, working with Mark Robson. In December 2013, after receiving his third red card of the season during Barnet's 2–1 loss to Salisbury City, Davids contemplated ending his football career. He eventually stepped down from his managerial position at Barnet on January 18, 2014.

Edgar Davids' stats

Davids played a total of 581 matches, scoring 48 goals, and accumulating a significant 44,842 minutes on the field. He had the most appearances for Juventus, where he played 235 matches, netting ten goals.

Alessandro Del Piero and Edgar Davids
Alessandro Del Piero (L) and Edgar Davids pose for a photo after a media opportunity at the Sydney Opera House on February 18, 2014, in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Mark Nolan
Source: Getty Images

Coaching career

In June 2011, Edgar Davids joined the supervisory board at Ajax, serving alongside the legendary Johan Cruyff. He once clashed with footballing legend Johan Cruyff, who was also on the board at Ajax, after he said Cruyff refused to apologise over an alleged racist remark.

Fast forward to 2020, Davids took on the role of assistant coach at Telstar, a club in the Dutch Eerste Divisie. He then advanced to the position of head coach for the Portuguese team, Olhanense, on January 4, 2021.

However, his tenure there was short-lived, as he was dismissed from his coaching duties on July 19, 2021. In May 2022, he joined his former manager Louis van Gaal at the Dutch national team as part of his coaching staff.

How many trophies does Edgar Davids have?

Edgar Davids has won several major trophies throughout his football career. He was also part of the Dutch squad that reached fourth place in the 1998 World Cup and third in the European Football Championships of 1996, 2000, and 2004.

Frequently asked questions

Olcay Gulsen with Edgar Davids
Olcay Gulsen, with fiance Edgar Davids, during Scotland's most high-profile celebration of fashion and style at The Clyde Auditorium on June 11, 2012, in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo: Sandy Young
Source: Getty Images

Does Edgar Davids' have a wife?

Davids was engaged to fashion designer Olcay Gulsen. Olcay and Edgar Davids began their relationship in 2006 but eventually split in 2012.

Who is Edgar Davids' son, Gyatso?

Edgar's son, Gyatso, is 24 years of age as of January 2024. According to his Instagram post, Gyatso was born on 29 December 1999. He appears to be involved in creative and fashion projects, particularly in collaboration with prominent brands.

What is known about the iconic Edgar Davids jersey?

The Edgar Davids jersey at Juventus, emblazoned with the number 26, became an emblem of his dynamic and fearless style of play in the heart of midfield. This iconic jersey symbolised his tenure at the Italian club, where he was celebrated for his tenacious performances and integral role in the team's successes.

Why does Edgar Davids wear glasses?

In 1999, after undergoing surgery on his right eye due to glaucoma, which had developed from eye injuries in 1995, Davids started to wear protective glasses. He first donned them during an international friendly match against Belgium on September 4, 1999.

How much is Edgar Davids' net worth?

According to Freshers Live, Edgar has an estimated and unverified net worth of between $1 and 5 million. In 1999, the Guardian reported he earned approximately $37,800 per week in Italy while playing for AC Milan.

Final word

Edgar Davids remains a figure of inspiration in football, not just for his skill and tenacity on the pitch but also for his unique style and the way he overcame personal challenges. His legacy extends beyond the trophies and accolades; it lies in the hearts of football fans who admired his passion, his fighting spirit, and the sheer determination he displayed every time he stepped onto the field.

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Authors
Kenneth Mwenda photo
Kenneth Mwenda
Kenneth Mwenda is a business and sports writer with over five years of experience. At Sportsbrief, he contributes to writing biographies and listicles.