A Bayern Munich regular and Canada's national sporting hero at the age of 19: these are happy days for Alphonso 'Phonzie' Davies.
A backstory worthy of the big screen, bundesliga.com presents 10 standout factoids on the young man with the biggest smile in football...
1) O Canada
Davies was born in Buduburam, a refugee camp in the Gomoa East District of Ghana, where his parents had fled to during the Second Liberian Civil War. The family moved to Windsor, Ontario, when Davies was five, and later settled in Edmonton, Alberta - but it was a further 13 years before he would receive his Canadian citizenship. "It's a great honour to be able to call myself a Canadian citizen," Davies said in June 2017. "I'm also extremely thankful to my parents for everything they've done throughout the years, carrying the family to this safe environment. This is our home. This is where I grew up."
2) The Millennial Kid
Boy, did he grow up. Following spells with Edmonton Internazionale, Edmonton Strikers, the St. Nicholas Soccer Academy and the FC Edmonton Academy, a 14-year-old Davies made the move to Vancouver, joining the Whitecaps Residency programme's U16 team. His progress was rapid and, after becoming the youngest player to appear in the United Soccer League, he made history as the first player born in the 2000s to play in Major League Soccer - aged just 15 years, eight months and 15 days. All told, he turned out 65 times in MLS, tallying eight goals and 12 assists - all before the age of 18.
3) Sweet 16
Davies might not hold the record for being the youngest player in MLS history - that honour goes to former USMNT forward Freddie Adu - but he is the Canada national team's greenest debutant. With one season of top-flight soccer under his belt, Davies was still 16 when he took his international bow against Curacao, writing his name into the history books as his country’s freshest face - a week after taking his oath of citizenship at that.
4) Gold Cup milestones
The records continued to tumble after Davies was named in the Canada squad for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Not only did Davies establish himself as the The Canucks' youngest ever goalscorer and the youngest to score at a Gold Cup with his brace against French Guiana, he also became the first player born in the 21st century to score at a major international tournament. No wonder Davies went on to claim a second successive Canada U17 Male Player of the Year award.
5) United Bid, not Manchester United
If rumours are to be believed, Davies turned down the offer of a trial at English Premier League giants Manchester United in favour of a January 2018 training camp with the Canada Olympics team. He jumped at the chance to join Bayern for an MLS record fee seven months later, but not before speaking at a FIFA Congress on behalf of North America's 'United bid' to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. "It was very compelling and very inspiring and very emotional," said Peter Montopoli, General Secretary of Soccer Canada, after FIFA awarded the 2026 tournament to Canada, Mexico and the USA. "He was just the perfect guy to start with. He is what this bid was all about - being united."
6) Bayern beginnings
Davies linked up with Bayern in November 2018 after completing the Major League Soccer season with Vancouver. He enjoyed a month-long orientation with the first team, before activating a contract that runs until summer 2023 in the new year. He made his Bundesliga debut as an 86th-minute substitute for Kingsley Coman against VfB Stuttgart on 27 January 2019, and scored his first goal in a 6-0 rout of Mainz seven weeks later. In doing so, Davies carved out his own slice of history in the Bavarian capital. Not only is he the first Canadian international to play and score for Bayern, he is also the first person born after 2000 to find the net for the club.
7) National hero
A legend in the making, Davies chalked up another milestone by becoming the first player to score for Canada against the USA since 2007 in the northern American neighbours' CONCACAF Nations League Group A qualifier on 16 October 2019. The Bayern starlet opened the scoring in the 63rd minute in Toronto, before exiting the pitch three minutes later to a standing ovation from the 17,126-strong crowd at BMO Field. The Canucks won the match 2-0 to end a 34-year, 17-game winless run against the US. "It's the biggest goal of my career," he said afterwards. In the weeks prior to the game, he'd only just bought his first BMX...
8) A diploma in Messi
Needless to say he had no need for stabilisers. A left-footed winger armed with a low centre of gravity and more tricks up his sleeve than the late Harry Houdini, Davies readily admits to modelling his game on Barcelona and Argentina legend Lionel Messi. "I've been trying to copy his style of play, but the thing is that he's a little bit shorter than me and my legs are long, so I have longer strides," he told AFTN. "I usually just keep the ball and use the pace that God gave me to get past players."
9) From left-back with love
The big man upstairs also endowed Davies with the skill set to deliver the goods at left-back. It's a role Phonzie has got to grips with under John Herdman for Canada, and made his own in a Bayern shirt in 2019/20. "My mindset growing up was attack, attack, attack, but now it’s defend, defend, defend," he explained. Is there anything the man Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has tipped to "become one of the best players of his generation" cannot do...?
10) A good Ed
It's praise of gargantuan proportions, but Davies has earned it and better still has the humble head to take it all in his rapier-like stride. Even before the age of 20, he's already giving back to the Edmonton community where his journey to the top of the soccer tree began, with holiday visits not just to his parents' place but his old high-school stomping ground very much the norm. "When Alphonso walked in the hallways and the kids saw him they were star-struck," enthused St. Nicholas Catholic Junior High School soccer academy director Marco Bossio of one such trip. "It was great the kids got to see him as not just a player on TV, they got to see him as an actual person. He's a special kid, but is so grounded at the same time."
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