This article was first published in Champions Journal. Read the original article here.
The interview takes place in a concrete TV studio under one of the pitches at the training ground. Davies arrives with a pile of clothes in hand and, bizarrely, a steaming iron on top. Soon all becomes clear: post-chat he proceeds to change out of his training kit and into street clothes for the photoshoot – and out comes the iron to press a white T-shirt.
As we joke that his mum would be proud, he breaks into a smile. Even in this high-pressure environment he is relaxed – though it’s a bit bemusing when he then pulls a black top over the tee. Perhaps it’s a reflection of his playing style: methodical and driven in his preparations, fun and spontaneous out on the pitch.
Off it too: Davies is a fully fledged citizen of the online world. Aside from Europe’s playing fields, he appears most comfortably at home in the realms of Twitch and TikTok, the latter a platform where his nearly 7 million followers enjoy regular doses of his infectious personality. Sample video: can Alphonso Davies crack an egg pressed end to end between his palms? Spoiler alert: he cannot, but he delights in presenting the challenge to his social media fanbase.
Davies is similarly open when he runs us through the remarkable events that have led him to the apex of European football. A story that properly began before he was born: in Liberia, where a civil war forced his parents Victoria and Debeah to escape. “For them, it was a tough road,” he says. “When the war started, they didn’t have time to pack up their stuff – it was everyone for themselves. They had to flee. They had to leave or else they were going to get killed. But I’m happy, I’m fortunate they managed to get out to Ghana.”
His parents eventually found their way to Buduburam, a United Nations refugee camp where Davies was born in 2000. Their ordeal during that tumultuous period is difficult to imagine. And, as Davies learned only recently, not all his siblings were so fortunate. “I found out, I want to say five or six years ago, that I had a sister,” he explains. “They lost her during the civil war in Liberia. Everyone fled and she got lost. Someone recognised that she was my mom’s daughter and they brought her. They called my mom – they found a way to reach her and brought her to us.
“I mean, it’s an inspiring story. Obviously, even when I look back to it, I give the credit to my parents. Everything they do, all the sacrifices they made for the family. It’s truly an amazing story and I’m very proud of them.”
This is where casual talk of goals, titles and the Champions League anthem begins to feel irrelevant. The glittering lights, the media glare... does any of it matter? Then you remember that it matters hugely to the players who have overcome the most to reach the top.
Especially as Davies’ next destination, his safe harbour, was even further from future midweek tussles with Real Madrid. it was Canada next – the second biggest country on the map but among the backest of football’s backwaters when Davies moved there aged five. “I experienced snow for the first time, which was a cool experience. And riding a bicycle. You know, all the fun stuff as a kid that I really didn’t get to do when I was in Ghana. The language was a bit of a challenge, but everything new to you is a challenge in life.
“It was just about trying to learn the language and finding some friends – but once I started playing football, it made everything easier. Once they saw me play they were very impressed, and I started making more and more friends. I think football helped me because it built up my confidence to be able to have a conversation with people I didn’t know and to hang out with friends. To be a leader on the field as well.”