The young man who ran rings around Chelsea and ripped their Champions League ambitions to shreds is smiling once again.
Alphonso Davies, one of the hottest young talents in Europe and a future star for Bayern Munich, is participating in a Zoom call to discuss everything from social distancing to Idris Elba but first he is taken back to the middle of February and a remarkable night at Stamford Bridge.
Given what has happened in the time since, the first leg of Champions League last 16 tie seems like another lifetime ago and we still do not know if the tie will be completed. What can be said with certainty, however, is the memory of Davies, a 19-year-old Canadian, surging down Bayern’s left-flank and terrorising Chelsea’s defence has not faded.
Alphonso Davies scorched Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League this season
This wasn’t a breakthrough performance – it was someone smashing down the doors and spectacularly entering the big time. Gary Lineker, heading the growing legion of admirers, tweeted during his performance that he was ‘playing beautifully’. Nobody disagreed.
So good was Davies that night, his team-mate Robert Lewandowski dragged him in front of the visiting section, hoisted his arms aloft and pointed at him in recognition of a job well done following a 3-0 win. Such is the belief Bayern have in him, you sense it will not be the last time he receives such acclaim.
‘People were telling me they were going to be watching the game – important people in my life,’ Davies, who grew up supporting Chelsea, says. ‘Every game I play, I play to the best of my ability and play like it’s my last. Going to that game, I knew it was a very important game for the team.
So good was Davies against Chelsea, his team-mate Robert Lewandowski (centre left) dragged him to the away end to lap up an applause at full-time at Stamford Bridge
After moving from Vancouver Whitecaps, Davies was aware of heavy Premier League interest
‘For every kid it’s a dream come true. I just wanted to go out there and do what I know I can do. Play my game and it went so well and I was able to assist Lewandowski for the third goal. Yeah, I heard the fans calling my name but I was a little bit shy at first!
‘But I guess I have team-mates who were encouraging me to give them (the fans) a little plug, a little love and it felt good afterwards. We know Chelsea are a big team, a tough team and being able to play against them was amazing.’
Davies could actually have been a regular sight for English viewers. In the summer of 2018, when he was leaving Vancouver Whitecaps, a number of Premier League teams – most notably Manchester United – made enquiries about him but never followed up their interest.
Bayern had no such doubts and took the plunge, taking him to Germany for £9million – a record fee for someone leaving MLS.
Such has been the progress he has made, Bayern ripped up his initial contract last week and rewarded him with new terms that run to 2025.
Just last week Bayern handed Davies a lucrative new deal, pulling out all the stops to tie the player to a long-term contract despite the obstacles of the coronavirus crisis
With the 2026 World Cup being hosted by the USA and Canada, Davies is set to be a pin-up
‘I know there were rumours about England,’ he says. ‘I know different teams had approached my agents. My full focus at the time was Vancouver and trying to get into the play-offs.
‘Behind the scenes, my people were dealing with it so I didn’t need to think about it a whole lot.
‘Teams approached my people and they relayed the messages to me. We sat down with Bayern Munich and as soon as I heard them, there was no hesitation that I wanted to join this team.
‘I love playing for this club. Being so young and coming here so early is even more of a motivation.’
Davies has overcome feelings of being star struck – he admits to being overwhelmed when coming up against Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a pre-season friendly last summer – and is comfortable facing questions on countless different subjects from around the world.
He talks about potentially being the face for Canada’s team at the 2026 World Cup, which they will host with the United States and Mexico; his one-time wish to be an actor and how he is encouraging some of his older team-mates to change their social media habits and embrace TikTok.
The 19-year-old has become immensely popular on TikTok and posts a variety of videos
There is a serious twist to the discussion, however, when he discusses the impact of COVID-19 and how football will emerge from its shutdown. Bayern are back in training, adhering to social distancing, and potentially on course to play again on May 9.
‘We know the situation has happened and we have to keep ourselves safe,’ says Davies.
‘Sometimes the best thing is just to stay inside. Not being able to train as a whole team is not a bad thing to do. Being able to train in general is exciting. As of now, there are things on my mind.
‘Going back to training, we want to make sure we are all fit, we are all healthy – all our families are healthy and safe as well. I’m sure they will figure out a way to bring football back again.
‘Right now are just training as a team. It’s up to the head guys to figure and keep us safe.’