About 15 years ago, Alun Davies took a job in Denmark with a company that produces central heating pumps. And so Alun and his wife Eryl packed their bags and moved to a town called Viborg, taking their football-mad eight-year-old Ben with them.
Ben joined the local academy, and soon found himself getting a rare and valuable footballing education. During the harsh Danish winters, indoor football was the game of choice, with pristine artificial surfaces and an emphasis on control, passing and movement.
“It was a lot more technical and organised at that age,” Davies would later remember. “At that level I also found that the quality was better. It’s something they should do more here.”
Football’s origin stories can often become overly fixated on small details. Davies returned to Wales at the age of 11. But it is tempting to wonder whether he would have become the player he did if he had instead spent those years charging up and down the muddy pitches of his rugby-focused Swansea primary school.
In an important sense, that technical education, that ball craft, that thirst for learning, developing, exploring the outer reaches of his game, has never quite left him.