DAVIES MAKES COUN­TRY PROUD

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS - TERRY JONES

Alphonso Davies scored big for Canada, Mex­ico and the USA to bring the 2026 World Cup to North Amer­ica.

He was the striker, the lead speaker, for the United Bid in Moscow and proved to be an in­spired choice.

“He was the nat­u­ral,” said Peter Mon­topoli, gen­eral sec­re­tary of Soc­cer Canada via cell­phone from Rus­sia early Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

“Alphonso has great chem­istry with peo­ple. He has a great per­son­al­ity. His story drove the nar­ra­tive. 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.

“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,” Mon­topoli added.

The young man be­gan his pre­sen­ta­tion at the FIFA Congress with: “It’s a great hon­our to speak to you to­day. My name is Alphonso Davies.

“My friends are from Liberia and fled the civil war. I was born in Ghana in a refugee camp. It was a hard life. 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.

“To­day, I’m 17 years old and I’m play­ing for the men’s na­tional team and I’m a proud Cana­dian cit­i­zen and my dream is to some day com­pete in the World Cup, maybe in my home­town (of ) Ed­mon­ton,” he said, beam­ing.

“The peo­ple in North Amer­ica have al­ways wel­comed me. Given the op­por­tu­nity, I know they’ll wel­come you.”

Davies said he dreams of play­ing for Canada in Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium and even dreams of scor­ing the first World Cup goal for Canada, our na­tion hav­ing failed to man­u­fac­ture one in our only pre­vi­ous World Cup appearance in Mex­ico in 1986.

“It would be amaz­ing to play for Canada in a World Cup. Not many play­ers get to play in a World Cup, very few ever get to play in one in their own coun­try much less in their home­town. Be­ing able to play in the 2026 World Cup in Ed­mon­ton would be a mag­i­cal feel­ing for me.

“For sure I’ll be dream­ing of scor­ing Canada’s first ever goal at a World Cup. I’d be over the moon to score the first ever goal for Canada in the World Cup. I think that’s some­thing I can re­ally reach for.

“I was ex­cited when one of the mem­bers of the Van­cou­ver White­caps ex­ec­u­tive called me and said Soc­cer Canada wanted me to call them. They made me keep this a se­cret. I didn’t know how it was go­ing to work. I just knew they wanted me to give a short speech. We worked that all out later. They asked me down here to tell them my story and we worked it out.”

Davies is com­ing off be­ing named Ma­jor League Soc­cer’s player of the week for a one-goal, three-as­sist game for the White­caps in a 5-2 win over Or­lando City. In the 20-year his­tory of MLS, only five teenagers have won player-of-the-week honours.

In June last year, he be­came the youngest player to ap­pear for the Cana­dian men’s na­tional team and scored two goals in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match. Play­ing youth soc­cer for the Ed­mon­ton In­ter­na­tion­als and Ed­mon­ton Strik­ers, Davies was in the FC Ed­mon­ton Acad­emy and played a friendly for the team against Cal­gary Foothills be­fore join­ing the White­caps.

“It just be­came one of the high­lights of my life,” Davies said re­gard­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion Wed­nes­day. “To be able to say I helped bring the 2026 World Cup to Canada is be­yond be­lief. I was ner­vous wait­ing for our time to go on stage, but not when it was time. I had my story to tell and I was ex­cited to tell it. My nerves just calmed down so I could do that.”

He said the mo­ment the vote was an­nounced was big­ger than any goal he’s ever scored.

“I jumped out of my seat I was so ex­cited. I hugged the other two play­ers who are here from Mex­ico and the U.S. and hugged all the peo­ple be­hind the scenes that made this pos­si­ble.”

Davies said he hoped his mom, Vic­to­ria, and dad De­beah, who fled Liberia to Ghana be­fore mov­ing to Canada and still live in Ed­mon­ton — where he con­tin­ues to re­turn in the off-sea­son — are pretty proud. And he said he hopes all his child­hood friends from Ed­mon­ton feel the same way, too.

He said he never thought for a mo­ment about play­ing for any coun­try other than Canada, as oth­ers have done with their birth na­tions.

“At a very young age, when I was five, Canada has given me what I needed in life, in foot­ball, school, food and ev­ery­thing. Canada gave me the free­dom to live life like I want. When I got the op­por­tu­nity to play for Canada, it was a spe­cial day in my life.

“Ed­mon­ton has meant ev­ery­thing to me. It’s where I met my friends and where I started my foot­ball life.”

Alphonso Davies

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