As Chelsea were torn limb from limb at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their Round of 16 knockout game with Bayern Munich on Wednesday morning, it was difficult for them to know which was to look.
Should their eyes be drawn to Robert Lewandowski, who was helping himself to a 43rd goal in 29 games this season? Or Arsenal reject Serge Gnabry, who was picking up his fifth and sixth goals in two games back in London? Or even the pitch-side VAR monitor which upgraded Marcos Alonso’s yellow card to a red card?
While all those things were going on prominently in front of Chelsea’s defenders, there was a teenage lightning bolt operating in their periphery who made the Blues’ already weary legs feel like they were about to fall off.
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The stunning performance by Bayern Munich’s 19-year-old left-back Alphonso Davies was just the latest chapter in a remarkable rise for the Ghanaian-born Canadian.
Davies’s parents are from Liberia and fled the country during the Second Liberian Civil War amidst gunfire and violence before settling in a refugee camp in Buduburam, just west of Ghana’s capital city of Accra.
That’s where Davies was born, in a refugee camp in 2000.
His health suffered in the harsh conditions before the family’s application to move to Canada was finally approved while Davies was just five. That’s when he took up football.
Fast forward 12 years and he had many of the world’s biggest clubs chasing him, having become the second youngest MLS player in history and joined up with the Canadian national team as soon as his citizenship was confirmed.
He was set to have a trial at Manchester United, who had been following his progress for a number of months, with the Red Devils believing they were at the front of the queue for his youthful signature.
However, the trial was quickly called off after complications in January 2017 when the Vancouver Whitecaps were unwilling to allow their star player leave for three weeks as they prepared for the start of a new MLS season.
Bayern Munich quickly took their chance by making him the most expensive MLS signing ever at the time at $22m (USD) and Davies was given fleeting first-team opportunities while training alongside former Wellington Phoenix starlet Sarpreet Singh.
His progression has been a lot quicker than Singh’s though and he took his chance against Chelsea, twice making a mockery of Andreas Christensen’s attempts at defending, skipping past him and putting the backburners on before squaring expertly to Lewandowski to claim Bayern’s third.
While the Pole wheeling away in celebration, his teammates all rushed to congratulate Davies, underlining his popularity in the team.
This is a name that will be sticking around for many years and will likely be the face of the 2026 North American World Cup, having fronted the bid at just 18 years old.
“I was born in Ghana, in a refugee camp. It was a hard life. But when I was five years old, a country called Canada welcomed us in. And the boys on the football team made me feel at home,” said Davies when the bid was happening.
“The people of North America have always welcomed me. If given the opportunity, I know they’ll welcome you.”
And if that’s not enough for him to make your shortlist of favourite players, just take a look at his Tik-Tok account and how he even managed to make US TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine funny.