Alphonso Davies dazzling for German giant after tough upbringing in Africa
Since arriving at Bayern Munich in January, Canadian teenager Alphonso Davies has outstripped expectations to catapult to stardom with the Bavarian giant.
Bayern president Uli Hoeness has hailed the 19-year-old as “the discovery of the season”, who is already “on his way to being world class”, while sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said Davies “is the future” of the club.
The future has come faster than anticipated for the Ghana-born son of Liberian refugees. Less a month after signing from the Vancouver Whitecaps on a four-year contract for a base fee of $13.5 million (which could rise to $22 million), he made his Bundesliga debut off the bench against Stuttgart.
Davies, whose mother still calls him her “refugee baby”, netted his first Bayern goal in March and now finds himself earning rave reviews after making the leftback position his own.
Injuries to Niklas Suele and Lucas Hernandez prompted Bayern to switch David Alaba to centerback, with Davies filling on the left.
And Davies has seized his opportunity in stunning style, with his athleticism and speed prompting teammates to compare him to sprint legend Usain Bolt.
Leon Goretzka labeled Davies a “machine”, while fellow Germany international midfielder Joshua Kimmich said the youngster is “already on the top level”, with his passing and tackling stats frequently over the 90 percent mark.
Davies is not just impressing against the lesser lights of the Bundesliga, with stellar performances against top talent such as Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Tottenham’s Son Heung-min making the world sit up and take notice.
Very much in the mold of the modern fullback, Davies is also adding an extra dimension to Bayern’s attack and already seems indispensable for the five-time European champion.
He has started every game since Hansi Flick was appointed Bayern’s interim head coach following the firing of Niko Kovac in early November.
“He is of great value for us as we can count on his extraordinary speed,” Flick said.
Davies’ rapid rise to prominence is all the more remarkable considering his upbringing.
Born and raised in a refugee camp in Buduburam, Ghana, Davies lived in a small wooden hut with his parents, who had escaped Liberia’s civil war. As a 5-year-old, he played on dusty pitches without shoes.
In Canada, he had to care for his younger sister and brother, which “made him grow up fast as there was no choice”. Soccer, he said, helped him overcome shyness in his new homeland.
“I am thankful to my parents as they had no easy life. If they hadn’t dared to leave Africa, I wouldn’t have made my way in professional football,” said Davies.
Canadian coaches quickly realized they had a special talent on their hands, and at 15 years and 3 months, Davies became the second-youngest debutant in North American professional soccer.
A global audience was amazed when he managed to catch Tottenham striker Son, one of the game’s fastest forwards, after a blistering run back from midfield during Bayern’s 3-1 Champions League win earlier this month.
“What is happening to me right now is like a dream,” said Davies of his new-found fame. Bayern will hope that dream is just beginning.