A reported deal involving an Edmonton-raised soccer phenom, who plays a starring role with Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Vancouver Whitecaps, wowed the soccer world on Tuesday, especially those who first helped him begin his ascension to the apex of the sport in his hometown.
“This is as big as it gets,” Marco Bossio told Global News over the phone on Tuesday after learning Alphonso Davies, a player he coached at Edmonton’s St. Nicholas Catholic Junior High School, is set to join the giants of German soccer, Bayern Munich. “I’m super excited for Alphonso and the possibilities for him moving forward and chasing his dream.”
Tim Adams, founder of the Free Footie after-school program in Edmonton, said while he was thrilled to hear the news, he wasn’t exactly surprised that the kid who got his start in his program is now so sought-after.
“I’ve been hearing that this was going to happen for a long time from friends of mine and agents and pro players that I know,” Adams said.
“I’m so excited for Alphonso, for his family and for all the people that have helped him along the way.”
Listen below: Reid Wilkins interviews Free Footie founder Tim Adams on 630 CHED’s Inside Sports after news emerged Alphonso Davies is set to join Bayern Munich in Germany’s Bundesliga.
“It’s a great day for soccer in Canada, a great day for Edmonton and I think that the soccer community should celebrate what has happened,” Bossio said. “Alphonso came through a number of different community programs through Edmonton and I think a lot of coaches have helped his development and I think we should share this as a really huge success story.”
There have been weeks of rampant speculation that the Bavarian Bundesliga side has been trying to acquire the 17-year-old midfielder and on Tuesday, reports emerged that a transfer had been finalized. TSN reported Davies’ transfer fee could be as high as USD $20 million with bonuses, which would easily surpass the previous record set by an MLS player.
Bossio recruited Davies to join his soccer academy when the player was an 11-year-old in Grade 6.
Free Footie aims to provide disadvantaged children in Alberta’s capital with an opportunity to play soccer while also trying to build character. Davies, who eventually settled in Edmonton after coming to Canada with his family after leaving a refugee camp in Ghana, raised eyebrows in his early days taking part in the program.
Watch below: In June 2018, Free Footie founder Tim Adams joined Jennifer Crosby on Global News at Noon to share more about the program and Alphonso Davies’ success.
“I knew from that moment of watching Alphonso’s first touch that he had a gift,” Adams said on Tuesday.
“This is a kid who put in the work, put away the distractions and made it all come together.”
Beyond raising the profile of Canadian soccer, Adams said he believes Davies’ success will have the power to change attitudes in Canada where anti-immigrant and anti-refugee attitudes appear to have been on the rise in recent years.
“I just love the political message that it can send because football is so much more than just kicking a ball into the back of the net, it can really change a culture,” he said.
“This is a great example of what Canada is all about,” Adams said.
“We welcome people from all around the world with open arms, try our best to give them opportunities to excel and then watch them on their own — with some hard work, they can make anything happen.”
Watch below: On March 25, 2016, Julia Wong profiled teenaged Edmonton soccer player Alphonso Davies, At the time, he had been selected for Canada’s U-20 soccer team, but his story began in war-torn Liberia.
Davies has decided the national team he wants to play for. Last year, the teen received his Canadian citizenship and soon made his debut with the squad on the international stage.
“His parents came to Canada when he was five years old and I think that growing up in Edmonton, he realized that Edmonton and Canada have given him the opportunity to succeed at what he loves to do,” Bossio said. “I think that him choosing to play with Canada is a sign and a symbol that he does truly love this country.”
Watch below: Watch: In June 2018, Canadian soccer star Alphonso Davies told FIFA World Congress about his dream ahead of 2026 World Cup vote.
At last year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, Davies became the youngest player to ever score for Canada and also became the youngest goal-scorer in the tournament’s history.
“I’m really excited for what Alphonso’s story can do for this country and for the kids that I represent,” Adams said. “We have kids coming from all around the world who come here with nothing and are amazing kids.
“We have so many gaps in the system when it comes to supporting kids and I really hope this puts a big spotlight on those gaps,” he added. “If we close those gaps, we’re going to get more and more Alphonsos.”
Adams said Davies also exemplifies the importance of developing character, remarking on the poise he showed earlier this year when he helped the North American bid make its pitch to host the 2026 World Cup.
Bossio also said Davies’ personality and character make him all the more worthy of the success he’s seeing.
“Alphonso is a fantastic, fantastic person,” he said. “He’s got a great sense of humour, he likes to joke around with his friends and pull pranks and he plays with a smile on his face and you see that on the field.”
Davies will be staying put with the Whitecaps until the January transfer window opens. Bossio said he remembers clearly when he brought Davies to Vancouver to try our for the Whitecaps’ residency program.
“Upon his Grade 9 year, we flew to Vancouver and brought him to the Whitecaps’ training facility for a tryout and the coaches over there in Vancouver were really, really impressed.”