Buduburam, Ghana. A sprawling refugee camp of 50,000 people painted a glum picture for the thousands of Liberians who had travelled to the camp to escape the threat of the Second Liberian Civil War.
Food and water is hard to come by, death is in the air, and soldiers at the camp prevent refugees from straying too far from the site over fears that bandits could easily attack those who wander from Buduburam. But for one family, freedom is granted.
Through a resettlement programme and a successful interview process, Victoria and Debeah Davies were able to immigrate to Edmonton, Canada with their five-year-old son, Alphonso.
Thirteen years later, Alphonso Davies would become the best player for a new nation he calls home, an inspiration to refugees across the globe, and a superstar who will be going into 2019 as a player for one of the biggest clubs in world football.
From Ghana to Canada
Davies had a unique childhood compared to many other players in his age group, but you could say that it makes his rise to the top even more incredible and unique. After all, it’s not every day you see a player leave MLS for a fee of £16m.
Growing up in the Canadian city of Edmonton, Davies was introduced to a community that had good football coaches and players due to the area’s reputation for producing talent in the sport, and from an early age, it was clear he had something special about him.
After impressing for local teams, Davies was invited to join the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency program at the age of 14-years-old in Burnaby, British Colombia, over 700 miles away from his new home in Edmonton.
Despite some hesitation from his family, the decision was finally made that Alphonso could move to the academy, and it didn’t take long for the teenager to make a name for himself inside his new club.
Shattering records and leading a nation
A year after moving to the academy, he made his debut for Vancouver, becoming the second youngest MLS player of all time and the youngest player ever to feature for the Whitecaps.
Despite his age, Davies took to professional football like a duck to water. Although playing in an unfamiliar left back position, the teenager impressed in his first few games for the club. His pace and attitude to drive forward made him a problem for most right-sided wingers, but his attacking ability was still raw, meaning he wasn’t as effective in his first season as a professional player.
Although the next season saw Davies become a regular starter for Vancouver at club level, it was his impact with the Canadian national team that put the spotlight on the then 16-year-old.
After gaining Canadian citizenship, Davies was called up for Canada for the Gold Cup. Before the tournament the winger was hotly tipped to be one of the breakout stars of the tournament. In typical Alphonso fashion, he took things up another level.
Davies finished the tournament as the joint top goal scorer with three goals, as well as winning the Young Player Award for the tournament and also getting a place in the Gold Cup Best XI.
So how do you top a breakout 2017? If you’re Alphonso Davies, you make 2018 the year you’re known around the world.
2018: The Year of the Phonzie
When 2018 rolled around, Davies had established himself as one of the best youth prospects in MLS and the future star of the Canadian national team - and teams in Europe were starting to pay attention.
Rumours of a move to Europe had been brewing since Davies’ heroics in the Gold Cup, but it was his performances in the 2018 MLS season that really got the ball rolling.
Following a season where the Canadian failed to score once in the league, Davies had hit three and assisted another six when Bayern Munich came calling in late July.
The transfer sent shockwaves around the world of football. The biggest team in Germany and one of the most valuable sport teams on the planet had just spent close to £20m on a teenager that plays in MLS.
The idea in Bavaria is that instead of loaning out the 18-year-old for a few seasons, Niko Kovac wants to bleed Davies into the first team this season as the Bayern manager and the club itself sees the Canadian as the long-term replacement for club legend Franck Ribery.
No pressure but then Alphonso Davies has rarely seemed to feel the pressure in his brief career so far. The Canadian star is ready to take on Europe.