Is Davies Canada’s Greatest Soccer Player?
The outcome of the match was no longer in question. Still, that didn’t mean Alphonso Davies couldn’t add a little bit more magic to the proceedings.
Bayern Munich were well in command of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona, en route to a stunning 8-2 triumph. Already four goals to the good, that’s when Bayern left-back and Canadian international Davies interjected himself into the festivities.
Moving forward with the ball from the halfway line, Davies eluded three Barcelona players, including Lionel Messi. He turned Barcelona defender Nelson Semedo inside. Davies brought the ball through the left side of the penalty area before neatly slotting a pass across to Joshua Kimmich for the routine tap in.
“Regarding that assist, I say ‘Wow!’ It was world-class,” Bayern teammate Jerome Boateng told Bundesliga.com. “In terms of his development it’s not often there’s such a talented youngster who explodes like that and finds their position.
“I’m really happy for him because he’s a really likeable boy away from the pitch. He’s kept his feet on the ground and hasn’t gotten carried away.”
At the outset of this season with the German giants, Davies, only 19, was on the cusp of the first team – not considered a regular but most certainly a piece of Bayern’s puzzle.
Before long, injuries would create an opportunity for Davies in the Bayern backline and he would fit himself into the overall picture quite wonderfully.
Early-season injuries to Niklas Süle and Lucas Hernandez caused a gap in the Bayern defense. Left-back David Alaba shifted to a central defender role. Davies, normally a midfielder or winger, slotted in at left-back and didn’t just fill in, he played a starring role.
Though both of the injured veterans have long since regained their fitness, the steady, often spectacular play of Davies has prevented either from reclaiming their first-team place.
“He just wants to get better and continue learning,” Boateng said of Davies. “It’s a pleasure to watch him do that. There’s still so much potential there, I must say.
“It wasn’t his regular position in the past, so you can still expect more from him. He’s still going to get much better.”
In fact, before celebrating his 20th birthday, Davies may already be ready to lay claim to the title of Canada’s greatest-ever footballer.
From Refugee To Prodigy
Davies was born in a refugee camp in Ghana. His parents had fled civil war in their homeland of Liberia.
They moved to Canada when he was five. By the age of 15, Davies was signing a professional contract with the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS.
Wooed by Manchester United, rejected by Barcelona, Davies opted for the legendary German side. “I am very happy,” Davies tweeted. FC Bayern is one of the best clubs in the world, and for me it’s a dream come true to play here.
“I felt happy from Day One. I want to win as many titles as possible with this club.”
A title could be arriving very soon for Bayern. At Bovada, the German sensations are the -185 odds-on favorites to capture the UEFA Champions League title.
All-Time Great Canadians
The contenders for the all-time greatest Canadian footballer is a shortlist. Canada’s history in the beautiful game isn’t exactly pretty. Canada’s lone World Cup appearance came at Mexico in 1986. The Canadiens failed to register a goal in their three group stage matches. Canada is currently ranked 73rd in the world by FIFA.
Goalkeeper Craig Forrest is the most well-known Canadian international. The former Ipswich and West Ham player earned 56 caps for Canada and was named to the No. 1 shirt in Canada’s all-time team in 2012.
Even though he played internationally for England, Owen Hargreaves was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, so he technically counts as Canadian. The Manchester United midfielder also got his start in Europe with Bayern Munich.
Davies already has five goals in 17 appearances for Canada. He made his senior international debut at the age of 17. Last fall, he scored the match-winner when the Canadians beat the USA for the first time in 34 years.
Feature Photo by: Sven Mandel (Wikimedia).