Edmonton-raised Alphonso Davies voted Canada’s top soccer player

Alphonso Davies, who drew worldwide acclaim while helping Bayern Munich fill its trophy case in a remarkable 2020, has been named Canadian Men’s Player of the Year.

The 20-year-old from Edmonton also captured the award in 2018, then the youngest-ever winner of the men’s award at age 18. He was named Canada’s U-17 Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017.

Read more: Alphonso Davies joins David Beckham, Dwayne De Rosario and others as finalists for MLS’ ’25 Greatest’

Canada Soccer, which will announce the women’s award winner on Friday, said Davies earned a record vote total from Canadian media and coaches, finishing just ahead of Christine Sinclair’s record set in 2012.

News of the men’s award comes the same day that Davies, now a fixture at left back for the German champions, returned to first-team training after tearing ankle ligaments in Bayern’s 5-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in late October.

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“To see what Alphonso Davies has accomplished this year is awe-inspiring for the next generation of players,” Canada coach John Herdman said in a statement. “His achievements have raised the flag in our sport higher than anyone else in our lifetime on the men’s side of the game and he has helped put this country as a football country on the world map.”

Converted to fullback by Bayern, Davies has turned heads with his speed and ability to create attacks. Bayern veteran Thomas Mueller dubbed him the Bayern Road Runner after the pacey cartoon character.

In June, Davies was named Bundesliga rookie of the year in voting by fans, clubs and the media. Kicker magazine, a German sports magazine that focuses mainly on football, included him in its Bundesliga team of the season.

This week, ESPN ranked Davies as the second-best left fullback in the world, behind Liverpool’s Andy Robertson.

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Read more: Edmonton-raised soccer star Alphonso Davies voted Bundesliga rookie of the year

He was third in voting for the Golden Boy award won by Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland. The annual award, run by Italian newspaper Tuttosport, honours the best young player in Europe.

And he was shortlisted as a nominee for UEFA’s Team of the Year and Defender of the Year.

Davies shone on the biggest stage.

In an 8-2 beatdown of Barcelona in Champions League quarterfinal play in August, he set up Bayern’s fifth goal in the 63rd minute with a sensational run down the left flank. Davies beat three Barca players, befuddling Portuguese international Nelson Semedo before racing past several more defenders into the penalty box and sending a perfect pass to Joshua Kimmich to slot in from close range.

“That was unbelievable,” Kimmich said later. “Even I was a bit ashamed when I celebrated. He gets 99 per cent of the credit for the goal. I only had to get the ball over the line.”

Read more: Ankle injury could sideline Canadian star Alphonso Davies for 2 months

Davies, who turned 20 on Nov. 2, also excelled in Bayern’s 3-0 win at Chelsea in the first leg of their round-of-16 Champions League tie in late February. Davies made a lightning run down the left flank and crossed to Robert Lewandowski for a tap-in in the 76th minute.

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“Alphonso Davies’ parents fled Liberia in the civil war. He was born in a refugee camp in Ghana and moved to Canada when he was five. Here he is playing beautifully for Bayern at 19. What a wonderful story,” former England striker Gary Lineker, now an analyst with BBC Sport, posted on Twitter.

“Alphonso Davies is a world-class left back,” added former U.S. international Stuart Holden. “Top five in world soccer right now easy.”

Read more: From war-torn Liberia to Edmonton, young soccer player selected for Canada’s U-20 team

The six-foot, 165-pound Davies set a Bundesliga speed record out in a 1-0 win at Werder Bremen that earned the Bavarian powerhouse an eighth straight league title. He was clocked at 36.51 km/h in the first half against Bremen, according to the Bundesliga. That erased the fastest recorded speed in league history (36.19 km/h by Dortmund’s Achraf Hakimi) since detailed data collection began in 2011.

In 2020, Davies has helped Bayern to the Champions League and Bundesliga titles, the DFB Cup, UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup. He is the first Canadian male to lift the Champions League trophy.

Covering the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons from January through October 2020, Davies featured in 33 matches and scored two goals and six assists. Along the way, he was chosen Canada Soccer’s Player of the Month in February, July and August as well as FC Bayern’s Player of the Month and the Bundesliga’s Rookie of the Month in May.

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The young Canadian international joined Bayern from the Vancouver Whitecaps in a then-MLS record US$22-million transfer. The deal was done in July 2018 but Davies finished out the MLS season before joining Bayern in January 2019.

In April, he signed a contract extension with Bayern that will keep him with the German champions through June 2025.

Davies has won 17 caps for Canada, with five goals and seven assists. Off the pitch, he has attracted a huge social media following with 3.1 million followers, 2.9 million on TikTok. on Instagram and 233,000 on Twitter.

A former refugee, Davies became a Supporter of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees this year, using his platforms and his public profile to raise awareness and fundraise in support of refugees.

“Alphonso has to be commended for his passion and spirit with which he plays, but also for his ability to connect with people off the field,” said Herdman. “He is a real ambassador for our sport in Canada and on the global stage.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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