The defender Alphonso Davies is one of the stars of Bayern Munich football club | Photo: Reuters / Michael Dalder
The defender Alphonso Davies is one of the stars of Bayern Munich football club | Photo: Reuters / Michael Dalder

Germany’s top football team, Bayern Munich, which played and won the Champions League final* against Paris Saint Germain (PSG) on August 23 boasts a very talented player among its ranks -- a player with a unique past. That’s because Alphonso Davies grew up in a refugee camp in Ghana. Today, he uses his fame to come to the aid of others who, like his Liberian parents, were forced to flee their countries too.

"Today is World Refugee Day, an important moment for me. I know first hand what can happen when refugees are given the opportunity to pursue their dreams." Alphonso Davies posted this message on his Instagram account on June 20, to mark World Refugee Day. He knows because the outstanding defender** was himself born 19 years ago in the Buduburam refugee camp, situated about 40 kilometers away from the Ghanaian capital Accra.

The Buduburam camp was created in 1990 as a place for those fleeing the first civil war in Liberia. It gradually expanded as conflict broke out in Sierra Leone and continued in Liberia. Alphonso Davies' own parents left Liberia in the year 2000. On November 2, 2000 Alphonso was born. His mother Victoria told Sky Sports in an interview how difficult it was bringing up a child in a refugee camp where food was so scarce.

"We were safe in Ghana, but it was hard to live there. We were always worrying. People died of hunger in the camps too, not just in the war zone," said Victoria Davies.

When Alphonso was five, the family were able to leave the refugee camp and make their way to Canada. There, Alphonso was able to start school and sign up to a football club in the town of Edmonton. His parents found work and were busy bringing up their three children. Alphonso proved so talented as a footballer that he was scouted by a training center for the professional team Whitecap in Vancouver where he quickly excelled. By 2016, at the age of just 15, he was already playing for the professional team.

The following year, Alphonso was granted Canadian nationality and just a few days later, on June 13, 2017, he was called up to play for the Canadian national team in a friendly against Curaçao.

A talented youth

Word about his talent quickly spread, right across the Atlantic Ocean, where a lot of buzz was generated among the big European clubs about this talented young player. On January 1, 2019, Alphonso Davies arrived in Munich to play for Bayern. Four months later, with his first goal for Bayern, he became the youngest goalscorer the club had ever had at the age of 18 years, 4 months and 15 days against the team Mainz 05.***

In a team full of big stars, Alphonso Davies, nicknamed Phonzie, quickly confirmed all the hopes placed in him by the Bayern talent scouts. And, Alphonso Davies has used his growing popularity to come to the aid of refugees. At the end of April, along with the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, he took part in an appeal to collect donations for refugees affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to help raise funds for the appeal, he took part in a video game against the goalie from AC Milan, Asmir Begovic, another former refugee who was forced to flee Bosnia for Germany when he was very young, before also ending up moving to Canada.

As Bayern was making its way through the final stages of the Champions League, whose final took place in Portugal, Alphonso Davies’ profile was raised still further, particularly in the stunning 8 to 2 victory that Bayern won over FC Barcelona. Although Davies himself didn’t score in that game, the Spanish branch of UNHCR took to Twitter just ahead of the final to celebrate the Bayern player once again and place him as a shining example of the resilience and bravery of refugees all around the world.

"Who doubts the bravery and the resilience of refugees?" they asked on Twitter. "Surely all football fans out there will see it clearly after Alphonso Davies' race for FC Bayern in the UCL final; he himself was born to parents in a refugee camp who were fleeing war. Well done!".

*This article was translated from the French by Emma Wallis and slightly modified since it was published in English after the Champions League final had already taken place.

**Alphonso Davies is listed on the Bayern München FC website as a midfielder, he arrived as a winger but now plays Left-back, so defense.

***This match, which ended 6-0 against Mainz was played on March 17, 2019.

 

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