Alphonso Davies has played all over the world, but on Friday — for the first time in his career — the superstar is representing Canada in his hometown.
It’s expected more than 45,000 fans will be in attendance at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium Friday night.
The match against Costa Rica is one of two crucial World Cup qualifying games being played in the city. On Tuesday, the men’s team is back against Mexico.
The Canadian men’s soccer team hasn’t qualified for a World Cup since 1986. Right now, they sit third in their group. The top three teams automatically advance to Qatar in 2022.
Davies grew up in Edmonton, after coming to Canada as a refugee, and has had an immense impact on the community.
Isaac Tewolde, 11, is heading to Friday’s game, along with hundreds of his teammates at BTB Soccer Academy. He said he’s thrilled to watch his hero in action.
“It’s cool because he’s from the city. The whole city is supporting him… and Canada too,” Tewolde said.
The player has met Davies before — the soccer star regularly stops by the academy to offer tips to players.
“He was a nice guy. He was cool. He wasn’t hyper or anything,” said the 11-year-old. “He inspires me a lot. I’ll watch one of his sprints and then I’ll want to go to Commonwealth and try the same thing.”
BTB’s Kondeh Mansaray said the player has ties to the academy and has built a connection with many of the kids. Mansaray said he is consistently in awe of the time and care Davies takes to spend time with young players in Edmonton, despite being a mega-star.
“Alphonso makes people believe.
“It makes people believe they can play at the highest level of the sport. We’ve never had that before,” he said. “It means the world to these kids. It allows them to dream.”
“Canada has become a soccer nation, because Alphonso brings the mentality that we can be the best.
“That’s a true superstar. Take away the field… off the field he’s a superstar,” Mansaray said.
The game against Costa Rica begins at 7 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium.