NewslettersSign inAPP
spainSPAINchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA
Alphonso Davies

Alphonso Davies

From war in Liberia to success with Bayern

The Canada international was born in a refugee camp in Liberia, where his life was a daily battle for survival. The Canadian government rescued his family, who jumped at the opportunity they were given. Davies is now considered the best left-back in the world.

Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies

Bayern Munich left-back Alphonso Davies was born on 2 December 2000 in the Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana.

His parents, Debeah and Victoria, left their native Liberia during the Civil War. The country had been bleeding to death for more than 10 years, since the coup that brought Samuel Doe down in the early 1990s. Then, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) guerrillas planned to oust Charles Taylor from power. Monrovia, home to the Davies family, once again became a bloody battleground.

"It was really dangerous. The only way to survive there was with guns. We had no interest in shooting. We decided to escape from there," Debeah said in an interview with the official Vancouver Whitecaps media channels in 2017. "We had to cross bodies to find food," Victoria recalled. "The life of a refugee is like being put in a container and locked away. There was no way out. Anything could happen. Hunger also kills in a refugee camp, not just in a war zone," added the Bayern left-back's mother.

When the young footballer was born, his parents' primary concern was whether he would survive. Every day was a battle to make it to the next morning. Not only for Alphonso, but also for his parents and his two brothers. There was hardly any food or water. "We had to make sure he had something to eat," Debeah recounted.

In 2006, when Alphonso was still five years old, he and his family had access to a Canadian government-sponsored resettlement programme. "I was sad because my whole family had stayed in Liberia and I had no one in Canada, but on the other hand, I was happy because I was going with my husband and children to start a new life," Victoria said.

The Davies family could eventually leave Buduburam. The destination: Windsor, Ontario. A year later, they were able to settle in Edmonton, Alberta. Debeah and Victoria worked double shifts to support the family, while Alphonso took care of his younger siblings.

It wasn't long before Alphonso joined St. Nicholas Junior High Soccer Academy, where he attended 7th, 8th and 9th grades. The Knights won every local championship with Davies in the side. "Alphonso was and is a leader and role model for all of our students," said Marco Bossio, Davies' coach at St. Nicholas. The Vancouver Whitecaps monitored his development.

At 14, Davies received an invitation to join the Whitecaps Academy, located in Burnaby, British Columbia, on a full-time, all-expenses-paid basis. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, but his mother wasn't so sure. "I didn't want him to become a bad kid. I told him he could leave when he turned 16 or 17. He promised me he wouldn't change, that he would stay the same. 'I'll make them proud,'" he said.

On his 15th birthday in 2016, Davies signed his first professional contract with the Whitecaps academy. At the same time, 'Phonzie' was trying to finish his high school studies as part of a deal he had with his mother. By then, he had already become the youngest goalscorer in United Soccer League history. In July of the same year, Vancouver extended his contract so could make his first team debut in MLS. A year later, he officially became a Canadian citizen.

Today, Alphonso Davies is considered the best left-back in the world. He is a regular starter for German giants Bayern Munich, the club that signed him in 2018. According to Transfermarkt, his current market value is €70 million and he will be Canada's key man as they return to the FIFA World Cup after a 36-year absence. Buried in the past is the covid-19 infection he suffered and the subsequent myocarditis that forced him to stop all activity for over three months.

And, of course, left behind is the Liberian war, the Buduburam refugee camp, and the anguish of surviving from one day to the next. "People say I am an inspiration to them. I'm happy to inspire them, but it's strange for me to hear that. This has been my life," Davies said in 2017, before becoming the best left-back in the world.

More World Cup stories

Discover the secret histories of other stars at the Qatar World Cup

Lionel Messi Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

The little kid who became the best player in history Go to the story

Angel Correa Ángel Correa

Ángel Correa

The warrior who grew up in the poorest neighborhood Go to the story

Raul Jimenez Raúl Jiménez

Raúl Jiménez

The Mexican who risked his head for soccer Go to the story

Robert Lewandowski Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski

The rebellious kid who changed after his father died Go to the story

Eduardo Camavinga Eduardo Camavinga

Eduardo Camavinga

The kid who saved his family from catastrophe Go to the story

Luka Modric Luka Modric

Luka Modric

The kid who learned to play football during the Yugoslav War Go to the story

Marco Asensio Marco Asensio

Marco Asensio

The late developer who lost his mother Go to the story

Alphonso Davies Alphonso Davies

Alphonso Davies

From the Liberian Civil War to success at Bayern Go to the story

Gabriel Jesús Gabriel Jesús

Gabriel Jesús

From painting streets to fulfilling a promise to his mother Go to the story

Sadio Mane Sadio Mané

Sadio Mané

The philanthropist who built a city in Senegal Go to the story

Mariano Tovar.
Art direction:
Francisco Expósito.
Darío González.
Rodrigo Ludgero.
Texts writing:
Eduardo López.