Canadian prodigy Alphonso Davies, has taken his first steps towards the Bayern Munich first team by completing his maiden training session with the reigning Bundesliga champions.
The 18-year-old is in Munich for a month-long orientation period before Christmas with his move from Vancouver Whitecaps made official in January, activating a contract that runs until summer 2023.
"Alphonso will train normally during the four weeks until the winter break and will have time to settle in here and in Munich,” explained sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. “He’ll be part of the squad and available to play from 4 January. We’re excited about him. I’m sure he’ll develop here at FC Bayern and help us. I wish him the best of luck and success.”
The Canuck that got the candy
Davies, who will wear the number 19 shirt previously owned by the likes of Sebastian Rudy and Mario Götze, was put through his paces at Bayern's Säbener Straße along with future teammates Robert Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller on Wednesday.
“My first impressions of the training ground were great,” said Davies. “As a kid I dreamed of being part of such a big club. Now I am and it’s unbelievable. I’m very excited and looking forward to my time. I want to prove myself every day in training and work hard.”
Prior to his trans-Atlantic switch, Davies spent a couple of weeks catching up with friends and family in his hometown of Edmonton. Despite his 'Kid Canada' status, he says "only one person" recognised him as he hit the streets for a night of Halloween fun.
"I just wanted to be home with my family and to hang out with my friends," Davies explained. "It was good. My friends made me feel like a 17-year-old, especially the night I went trick or treating with them. We hit quite a few houses. We had a big bag for the candy and it filled up pretty quickly. It was nice to spend time with my parents, too."
Fulfilling a childhood dream
Grateful to all those who have helped him realise his childhood dream of playing professionally and proud of his roots, Davies also made time to pay a surprise visit to his old junior high school, where he was able to catch up with St. Nichols Soccer Academy director, Marco Bossio.
"It was an absolutely a crazy day, for sure," said Bossio, who first met Davies when he was a 12-year-old. "When Alphonso walked in the hallways and the kids saw him they were star-struck, they would go up to him and ask for his autograph and want to take pictures. 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."
Davies attended the St. Nicholas soccer academy for two years, before leaving for Vancouver at 14. He turned pro in 2015, and later made history as the first player born in the 2000s to play in the MLS, aged 15 years, eight months and 15 days old. In 65 MLS games for the Whitecaps, the teenage winger registered eight goals and 12 assists.
"I did an interview with him in Grade 7, I basically asked him, what were his goals, what were his ambitions," recalled Davies' former coach, Bossio. "Sure enough, he answered, 'My goal is to be a professional soccer player and to play in the pros.' And at the age of 11, to be able to realize that says a lot. This kid was very special."
In Kovac's immediate plans
Davies' talents have not been lost on Bayern head coach Niko Kovac, either. Responding to speculation about how and where the youngster will fit in at the home of Germany's record champions, the Croatian left reporters with no doubt whatsoever about his plans.
"If you spend so much money on a young player, you will not park him in the second team," Kovac said at the end of October. "He's got a big future."
Already Canada's youngest debutant and goalscorer, Davies earned his eighth senior international cap in the CONCACAF qualifying win over St. Kitts on 18 November.