At 19, Alphonso Davies is the face of Canadian football, the most gifted football player to have come out of the MLS, and one of the first names on Bayern team sheet.
What happens next is a tantalising prospect, but it is where Davies has come from—more so than where he is going—that makes his such a tellable tale.
The journey began in Buduburam, a Ghanaian refugee camp, where Davies was born after his parents had fled the civil war in Liberia. Life was fraught with difficulties. The search for clean water, food, simply staying alive; every hour passed was a triumph of survival. There had to be a better way.
Honestly I didn't think I was good when I started playing the game. I was only playing to have fun with my friends.
My coaches, teammates, their parents kept telling me I could become something if I kept going though, so I started believing it!"
—Alphonso Davies was the accidental footballer from Edmonton, the community where he and his family found refuge
“It was hard to live because the only way you survive sometimes is you have to carry guns,” remembers Alphonso’s father, Debeah. “We didn’t have any interest in shooting guns. So, we decided to just escape from there. They have a program called resettlement, and they said ‘OK, you have to fill in a form for Canada.’ We went through the interview and everything, and made it, and came over here.”
The Davies family were able to immigrate to Canada when Alphonso was five, eventually settling in Edmonton, Alberta. Debeah and the family matriarch Victoria worked long hours to make ends meet. Even Alphonso chipped in around the house, helping to raise his two younger siblings while attending the Mother Theresa Catholic school, where his talents first caught eyes.
“Our little Alphonso,” said Davies’ Grade 6 teacher and sports coach Melissa Guzzo. “He’s just one of those kids who had a permanent smile on his face, always dancing in the hallways. He’s such a natural talent. Anything he touched—track, basketball, any sport—he was the kid.”
I see Gareth Bale in Alphonso Davies.
Phonzy's attributes are a lot like Gareth. I played with Gareth for Wales and Phonzy is certainly on the same level when they were of similar age, to say the least.”
—At 15 years old, Davies jumped from U16 football to making his MLS bow under former Wales international Carl Robinson
Sensing something in the Edmonton air, Guzzo touched base with Tim Adams, the founder of Free Footie—a free after-school football league for inner-city kids in Elementary grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 who can’t afford registration fees and equipment or get transportation to games. Adams quickly realized that Davies was no ordinary kid.
“I saw him make his first touch, and I knew, immediately. This kid has a gift for the game,” he recalled after witnessing just a few minutes of Davies magic at a Free Footie end-of-year tournament. “Other kids I’ve seen have had that level of athleticism. But he had the mind. He was way more than a guy who could kick the ball into the back of the net.”
Instinctively, Adams had also called local football coach Marco Bossio to check out the tournament. The St. Nicholas Soccer Academy boss wasn’t disappointed.
"I'm glad I passed the citizenship test. Having the Canadian crest on my chest, on the field was a great moment for both myself and my family.
It's means a lot that I'm representing the country I've lived in for most of my life."
—Davies would go on to become Canada's youngest ever debutant and scorer aged 16
“There was something special about this boy,” Bossio said. “He had lightning-quick feet and speed with the ball. I knew that was something special at that age. I asked him what his plans were and he told me he would be playing for us next season. We were delighted. We have a lot of kids from different communities, so he fit in right away.”
It was during his formative years at St. Nicholas that Davies first began to entertain the idea of pursuing football for a living.
“To be honest, I was just trying to play for fun, to keep myself active and keep myself out of trouble,” Davies said. “I didn’t think I was really good, I was just playing the game because I enjoyed playing it with my friends. Then once I started playing organized football, parents, coaches, and other teammates were telling me to keep going and that I could become something so I started believing it. That’s what started me wanting to become a professional. That’s when I started training hard to become a professional.”
Alphonso Davies underlines what Canada is.
They see a kid, they helped on his journey, and they become a part of his journey now. We are going places together."
—Since coach John Herdman made Davies the team's lynchpin, Canada has enjoyed 75 percent win rate, a 50 percent lift from its previous record
Davies’ readiness to go that extra mile—a quality he attributes to his parents’ experience in war-torn Monrovia—saw him outgrow St. Nicholas and later the Edmonton Strikers. By the age of 14, he was enrolled in the Vancouver Whitecaps’ residency program. 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 the MLS. He was just 15 years, eight months and 15 days old.
“When he came in, we knew that he was a prospect for sure,” said Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. “I”m not sure that we would have gone overboard at that point and said he was going to make it and be something really special. For me, he’s a little bit of an anomaly. When he came in, he was part of the U16 team and within months he went from U16 to U18, the reserves, and then the senior team. That’s really rare, and I don’t see that happening again anytime soon.”
My first day at Bayern was just like a dream. I remember the first person I saw in the locker was Arjen Robben and I simply couldn't believe my eyes. The best part, he came up to me, shook my hand, and said, 'Hi, I'm Arjen.'
In my head I thought, 'You do not have to introduce yourself!'
—Davies was starstruck upon joining Bayern but it did not take long for the 17-year-old to shine his own light
A once-in-a-generation talent, Davies was soon on the national team’s radar. He had already represented the country at U17 and U20 level when he was called up for the senior side, debuting against Curacao on 14 June 2017. He had only obtained his Canadian citizenship a week earlier.
“That was a great moment for the family,” Davies said. “I’m glad I could get it. It’s going to mean a lot, representing the country I’ve lived in for most of my life. Having the Canadian crest on my chest playing for them is going to mean a lot for me.”
The Davies household watched on in awe as Alphonso, still 16, later became Canada’s youngest ever goalscorer and the youngest to score at a Gold Cup with his brace against French Guiana, as well as the first player born in the 21st century to score at a major international tournament. A star was born—but Davies represented more than just a prodigious athlete.
Alphonso Davies is now one of the top and most consistent performers at Bayern.
His physique is one of his great strengths. He's a model athlete—fast and also very robust. What truly sets him apart however is he's also an accomplished winger, and that attacking nous and technical ability makes Phonzy a wildcard of a left-back."
—'Meteoric' would be an understatement to describe Davies' rise through the Bayern ranks, a source of pride for many and especially reserve team trainer Sebastian Hoeness
“Alphonso Davies is somebody that all our players can aspire to become,” Canada national team coach John Herdman told the Edmonton Sun. “He underlines what Canada is. It is a country that accepts all.”
Before agreeing to join Bayern for an MLS record fee in July 2018, Davies spoke at a FIFA Congress on behalf of North America’s United 2026 bid to host the FIFA World Cup. He explained how Canada had welcomed him and his family as they sought refuge from Liberia’s bloody civil war; a journey that took him from a refugee camp in Ghana, via Edmonton, to a career in professional football. The impact of his words was undeniable.
“I don’t know what you were able to see back home, whether they showed the photos or not, but they showed photos of him when he was five years old, him coming to Canada and Canada adopting him as his home country,” said Peter Montopoli, General Secretary of Soccer Canada, after FIFA awarded the 2026 World Cup to Canada, Mexico, and the USA. “It was very compelling and very inspiring and very emotional. He was just the perfect guy to start with. He is what this bid was all about—being united.”
Alphonso Davies has developed very well at Bayern and has earned this contract extension with his impressive performances. We are happy that he will remain with Bayern in the long term.
Phonzy delights our fans not only with the way he plays, but also with the way he is off the pitch."
—Davies' displays earned him praise from Bayern CEO and legend Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and a lucrative contract extension till 2025
Despite his budding national hero status, Davies’ feet are rooted firmly on the ground.
“He’s got a good head on his shoulders,” commented Lenarduzzi. “Very early in his life, being a good person was obviously very important to him and his family, and you could see that they didn’t just talk about it, they implemented it. That’s refreshing, because in this age of the Millennial, that doesn’t happen a lot. It almost seems like it’s a movie right now, and we’re at the start of the movie with his family and life background, how he got to us—but there’s still a lot more of the story to be written.”
On only his fifth Bundesliga start, Davies became the youngest player to score for Bayern in almost 20 years with his strike against Mainz in March 2019. He ended his maiden top-flight campaign as a Bundesliga–DFB Cup double winner and would take things a step further this term, cementing himself not only as a regular starter but one of Bayern’s best—his average match rating currently the team’s third and second highest respectively in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League.
Football comes first, but I want to be an actor eventually.
I like entertaining people, and TikTok gives me the platform to do so and to engage with my fans. I'm growing my platform and influence for causes that I care about, to talk about refugees and my personal story, to inspire more people to reach out and help."
—Ever the overachiever, AD19 has even got his post-playing career mapped out at 19 years of age and it is an attractive blend of having fun and giving back
Off the pitch, Davies has also been putting in some eye-catching performances on video-sharing social networking service, TikTok. From taking off Bayern teammate Thomas Muller’s goal celebration to re-enacting a scene from US police sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the 19-year-old is far from camera shy.
“I like entertaining people, and TikTok gives me the platform to do so.,” Davies told former England striker Gary Lineker in a recent interview. “As a former refugee myself I am very grateful for the help my family received, and the opportunities this opened-up for me and where it has brought me. I want to use my platform to talk about refugees and my personal story to inspire people to reach out and help.”
He wants it that way, title of his most popular TikTok video, then.