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Simon Davies has revealed the anguish of Sergei Rebrov as the Ukraine’s World Cup qualifying campaign continues to stutter following the 1-1 with Wales in Kiev.
The hugely gifted Ukraine were tipped to top Group Five when the qualifying draw was made, but they, and the Norwegians have struggled to assert themselves this time around. Instead, resurgent Poland and unfancied Belarus lead the way.
Prior to the summer internationals, Sergei outlined the need for his nation to secure the full six-point bounty from the double-header against Norway and Wales. A disappointing two points has been garnered from the encounters.
By way of consolation, Belarus failed to take advantage of the Ukrainian mishap — taking only two points themselves from games with Armenia and Norway.
But Sergei was not a happy man, and sought solace in collapsing to the turf after suffering Welsh woe on Wednesday. A hostile crowd were venting their frustration in no uncertain terms, but at least Sergei was picked up by a friendly face — even if this particular friendly face was after the shirt off his back.
"I got Sergei's shirt afterwards," said Simon. "He was on the floor at the end of the game so I went over the pick him up and asked for his shirt.
"He was gutted. They have under-achieved and were expected to go to the finals. It will be hard for them now.
"I don't understand why they haven't done better, we've played them twice now and drawn both times. They're great results for us but Ukraine are very disappointed."
Simon’s career benefits of family support system well aware of the perils of the professional game — his uncle is former Wales and Crystal Palace star Ian Walsh, who was at the game commentating.
"My uncle is always there to offer advice and support, making sure I keep my feet on the ground and don't get carried away," added Simon.
"International football is a different game to the Premiership, you have to be more patient and keep the ball and then break quickly. There's a very slow build up and then in the final third it's very quick - that's the difference with the Premiership."
Simon again reflected on what has been a pivotal few months of a highly promising career.
"My progress has been unbelievable in the space of a few months, getting in regularly at Spurs and now winning my first full cap. I couldn't really have believed it all would be possible in such a short time. I've been dying to get a chance because I felt I was ready, certainly at Tottenham. And it's gone so well over the last games of the season - playing in Kiev just topped it all off."