Alphonso Davies has shown himself to be made of exactly the right stuff in his first year at record champions Bayern Munich, but there was a time when Canada's biggest soccer talent had doubts about making it at all.
Davies, 19, officially joined Bayern from Vancouver Whitecaps two months after his 18th Birthday in January 2019. He made six first-team appearances during the second half of the 2018/19 Bundesliga season as Bayern won a domestic Cup double, but has become a regular at left-back in recent months, starting the Munich giants' last eight matches in all competitions.
And while his trademark ear-to-ear smile speaks of a young man living the dream, 'Kid Canada' wasn't always the happy-go-lucky beacon of optimism he is today.
"I always wanted to play professionally, but I didn’t really think it was possible," Davies told These Football Times. "I had doubts in my mind that maybe footballers shouldn’t have, but when I started playing organised soccer, and came to Vancouver, I really thought that if I kept going at it, I could really be something."
Davies' persistence has paid tenfold. His first of two Bundesliga goals to date - against Mainz in March 2018 - saw him make history as Bayern's first millennial and Canadian scorer as well as their youngest marksman for 20 years.
Across his three-year stint at Vancouver, he had already become the youngest player to appear in the United Soccer League, the first born in the 2000s to play in the MLS as well as the Canada national team's youngest ever debutant and goalscorer.
Yet hard work and preternatural soccer skills are only part of Davies' recipe for success. God-given athleticism, honed on the playing fields of various Edmonton schools and sports clubs, has helped propel the 17-time Canada international to the top of the game.
"Being able to play [multiple sports] is always good for an athlete," Davies said, having dabbled in various sporting pursuits in his youth. "Especially basketball, track and field, or even football. Being able to run track and field helped me with my mechanics, my speed, to apply them on the field and also basketball, my defending and all those skills."
Watch: Relive Alphonso Davies' first Bundesliga goal
It's a potent cocktail that has enabled Davies to bolt down a place in the Bayern starting line-up. Phonzy's turned out 16 times in all competitions in 2019/20 and despite being a winger by trade, his defensive numbers are slowly creeping up.
Davies is pushing 60 per cent for tackles won, while his passing accuracy is hovering around the 87 per cent mark. He's chipped in with a second goal against Mainz - his favourite career opponents to date - and has ranked comfortably among Bayern's top three for ground covered in their last handful of top-flight assignments.
From Vancouver Whitecaps to the Bayern first team in less than 12 months: Davies would never have believed it in his early teens.
His ascent has been rapid, but that should come as no surprise from a player who has gone toe-to-toe in a footrace with Bundesliga boy racers such as Jadon Sancho and Moussa Diaby, and won. All that's left to do now is get out the speed gun...
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