GEORGE was simply the Best. Steven Davis is better than all the rest.

The plaudits, the praise and the acclaim that Davis received last week as he became Northern Ireland’s record appearance holder said it all about how highly he is rated and respected – by both team-mates and rivals – in the game.

Davis has always let his football do the talking and his professionalism continues to shine through as, at the age of 35, he remains an integral player in Glasgow and Belfast.

Compatriot and former Rangers team-mate Andy Little was as proud and pleased as anyone to see his friend surpass the achievement of Pat Jennings and Davis is now closing in on Peter Shilton’s UK record of 125 international outings.

And he believes Davis should be held in the highest esteem alongside the most famous name and more revered star to have emerged from Northern Ireland.

“I am delighted for him,” Little told Herald and Times Sport. “Personally, I like to see the good guys and the nice guys doing well and there is no doubt that is what Davo is.

“He is the most modest, unassuming legend that you will ever meet and that is why it is extra special. He is a total hero in Northern Ireland, but he ignores that hype around him, which is very different to many of the modern day players.

“There is no drama with him, he is a manager’s dream and the ultimate professional. If he turns up and puts in an average performance, it is still a seven out of ten and for Rangers he has been Mr Reliable this season.

“He is a total legend, he should be lauded, in my opinion, in the same way as George Best has been. George Best has an airport named after him and there is another airport outside Belfast. It is actually near where Steven was brought up, so why not have one named after him?

“It is not a great airport, so maybe he wouldn’t want it to be honest! If they could revamp it, then I think Steven Davis would be a good name to have above it.”

Davis has never coveted the limelight or made headlines for the wrong reasons as he has gone about his business during a hugely successful career for club and country.

He won eight major honours in his first stint at Ibrox and has performed with aplomb for Aston Villa, Fulham and Southampton south of the border.

His international bow came against Canada 15 years ago and his time in the green of his homeland has seen him play in famous wins over England and Spain as he has lived through the highs and lows.

Little said: “For Northern Ireland, it is just dedication to turn up every single time he is asked. International football, with the amount of money that is in the club game these days, can play second fiddle a bit.

“But with Davo, he has dedicated himself to international football and that is refreshing because you see a lot of players retiring from international football. I won’t criticise them for that, that is a personal choice.

“But Davo has completely dedicated himself to international football, whether that is a World Cup qualifier at Windsor or some away friendly in the middle of nowhere. He is not the sort of boy that phones up on a Sunday with a bit of tightness or tiredness and that is why he has accrued so many caps.

“He has been at every single game he can make and, from an international manager’s point of view, he is a dream. At club level, he just does the business.”

It is for that very reason that Davis is so respected and cherished at Ibrox and he continues to lead by example as part of Steven Gerrard’s blueprint.

The Ibrox boss has often spoken of his admiration for the man that he brought back to Rangers from Southampton last January and that is such a key member of his squad.

And Little knows his former team-mate will have an important part to play as Rangers set their sights on the Premiership title and domestic success this season.

“I heard Steven Gerrard talking and saying how he didn’t enjoy playing against him and you can’t get much more of a compliment than that,” he said.

“If your rival hasn’t had a good day against or had a good time against you over the years then you are obviously a decent player.

“This season for Rangers, certainly in my eyes anyway, he probably just tucks in behind Ryan Kent in terms of their best player so far.

“Obviously Kent has grabbed the headlines and he has been the difference in a lot of games in terms of going and getting the goals and the assists.

“But Davo is so consistent, he is back to where he was when Rangers were last winning leagues and Steven Gerrard has got to look at players who have been there and done it.

“You want a player that has been there and done it in the team every week if you can because there is a lot to say for experience.

“Celtic, in fairness, have proven that over the last number of years. From a Rangers point of view, you definitely want him in your team as often as you can.”