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AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
Alphonso Davies is the youngest ever player for Canada’s men’s national team.
STAR BOY

The fairy tale of a former Liberian refugee who’s just joined one of Europe’s top soccer clubs

By Yomi Kazeem

Soccer fans outside the US and Canada might never have heard of Alphonso Davies. But after sealing a move from Major League Soccer (MLS) side Vancouver Whitecaps to one of Europe’s biggest clubs and perennial German champions, Bayern Munich, Davies, 17, is on path to being a household name.

His $13 million transfer fee makes him the most expensive MLS player ever. And for much of the past year, the teenager, who’s been called a wonder teen, has been proving worthy of the hefty price tag, dazzling in MLS and with the Canadian national team and rewriting record books along the way.

But Davies has not always had life this good. He was born in a Ghanaian refugee camp to Liberian parents fleeing a brutal civil war which left more than 150,000 dead and nearly half a million people displaced. Aged five, he arrived Canada with his parents as refugees. Indeed he only received his Canadian citizenship a month before the 2017 Gold Cup tournament kicked off last year.

AP Photo/John Raoux
Alphonso Davies playing for Vancouver Whitecaps in Major League Soccer.

Davies’ major break came at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup where, at 16, he became the youngest player ever for Canada’s men’s national team. He also became Canada’s youngest ever goalscorer as well as the youngest player to score at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He finished the tournament as the joint top scorer.

Davies’ track record belies his age: at 17, he played 68 times for Vancouver Whitecaps senior team and six times for Canada. He’s also the first player born in the 2000s to play in an MLS match.

The winger’s move to Bayern Munich comes amid a row between the club president Uli Hoeness and another high profile immigrant origin German soccer star, Mesut Ozil. Hoeness has been criticized for a crass response to Ozil’s decision to retire from the German national team due to racism.