Alphonso Davies has packed a lot into his life for a 20 year old.
A refugee whose parents had to flee civil war, the Bayern Munich footballer has already won more trophies than most players dream of winning in a career.
But Davies isn’t only interested in entertaining football fans on the pitch. He’s garnered a mammoth following on TikTok, posting online to “put a smile on someone’s face,” as well as his own.
“When you make a video or TikTok, you have to enjoy your own content,” he tells CNN Sports’ Amanda Davies.
A life outside of football
Fans clearly enjoy Davies’ satirical brand of humor.
Last year, he went viral after creating a one-man re-enactment from the beloved comedy series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” lip-syncing his way through a police line-up scene. He plays the roles of Andy Samberg’s New York cop Jake Peralta, a witness, and every one of the suspects harmonizing to the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.”
Despite it being a technically challenging sketch to produce, he says it’s his favorite one he’s created so far.
“That took almost 45 minutes to make because I had to change different outfits and stuff like that, get the words right,” he says. “That was fun to make. I got a lot of good positive feedback from that video.”
He hopes to publish content that entertains his audience, irrespective of whether they follow him for his football achievements, or for his sense of humor. “It keeps me busy and it doesn’t just show Alphonso Davies the footballer, it shows Alphonso Davies the person as well.”
“[It] shows them that I have a life outside of football.”
Dealing with hate
But if Davies enjoys his social media presence because it gives him the opportunity to connect with fans, he’s also experienced the peril of existing as a Black man in the spotlight.
In December 2020, he and his girlfriend – Paris Saint-Germain forward Jordyn Huitema – revealed they had received racist abuse after sharing a picture of themselves on holiday in Ibiza in August.
Bayern president Herbert Hainer leaped to the couple’s defense at the time.
“Exclusion, discrimination, hatred and violence in every form have no place in our world. No matter where you come from – football offers us all a home,” he told German newspaper Bild.
“Football has the power to connect people. As FC Bayern, we always want to contribute to this,” Hainer added.
Davies continues to receive hate comments, but he remains unfazed. “There’s a lot of people out there that you’re going to get hate from, not everybody’s going to love you,” he says. “I was raised around good people […] they kept me strong.”
“Some people have some ugly stuff to say, but I know they’re just behind a screen typing. It doesn’t really affect me.”
Eliminating sustained racist abuse online is something the sport’s governing bodies don’t yet have a handle on.
Just weeks after some of English football’s biggest stakeholders participated in a social media boycott to try and combat the problem, Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford was subject to racist hate comments following his side’s defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League final.
“The things that happened with Marcus Rashford after the Europa League final, it was ugly to see,” Davies says. “We’re footballers, but we’re humans as well. We breathe, sleep, eat like everyone else.”
“I think whichever players are getting this hate, they handle it well […] It’s not easy to see, it’s very difficult.”
“Ever since I was little, I knew that people have different ideas, different opinions on everything,” he adds.
“If you stay true to yourself, I don’t think any of those can affect you.”
In June, he rode the latest digital trend by launching his first non-fungible token (NFT) collection, which included three unique pieces of virtual art created by US-based illustrator Jack Perkins.
Before releasing each design, Davies rallied his online followers with a social campaign, which allowed fans to vote on each aspect of the collection’s designs.
The three winners of the campaign will receive a limited edition NFT, along with the chance for one golden ticket recipient to meet Davies and be presented with a signed UEFA Champions League winners’ shirt.
Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, will host and trade the NFTs on its NFT marketplace.
“It was a great way for some artists to show their work,” he says. “Digital art is something different […] I thought it was a cool idea to get involved.”
Davies’ foray into the world of digital art and cryptocurrency is all for a good cause: 20% of the funds will be donated to multiple charities to help Palestinians.
“I have people close to my heart that are from that country. I’ve seen what’s going on and I think it was a quick decision for me to support them,” he says.
“Everything that’s going on there, I think everyone deserves to get respected […] and treated with dignity.”
Advocating for displaced people across the world is an issue that he is deeply affected by. The 20-year-old might be the face of Canadian soccer, but he emerged from humble beginnings. Davies was born in a Ghanaian refugee camp to Liberian parents who were fleeing their country’s civil war.
“I was in a refugee camp, people helped us, and I just want to give back to them,” he says. “I think it’s a good thing to do.”
Migrating to Canada
At the age of five, Davies left Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana with his parents and moved to start a new life in Edmonton, Canada.
“When my parents came to Canada, they told me some stories about their time in Ghana. It’s sad, it was a tough time and it was hard,” he says. “Growing up listening to these stories, I just want to make a better life for my family.”
His mother and father worked long hours to make ends meet. Davies himself helped raise his two younger siblings while attending Mother Teresa Catholic School, where his talents were first spotted.
He subsequently joined St. Nicholas Soccer Academy, and by the age of 14, he was enrolled in the Vancouver Whitecaps’ residency program – a development scheme that would see him become the first player born in the 2000s to play in the MLS.
The following year, Davies became a Canadian citizen and, on the same day, earned his first international call up, becoming the youngest player in Canada men’s football history.
Though he doesn’t have many memories of his life in Ghana, looking back, he says his parents’ sacrifice fuels his ambition and sense of purpose. “It’s a story that is part of me, and looking back, I can’t believe we made it out, which was amazing.”
“I remember how hard they [parents] worked to free their family. Every time I step on the pitch, it’s for them.”
Early success at Bayern
Since joining Bayern in the 2018 January transfer window, Davies has had incredible success with the club.
He’s lifted six trophies with coach Hansi Flick, all in the space of 12 months, including his third Bundesliga title this season and his first Champions League in 2020.
But when he arrived at the club, he was overwhelmed by its legendary starting lineup and folkloric history.
He describes his first time walking into the locker room, looking at his new teammates’ pictures on the wall, as an “incredible” experience.
“Words can’t really explain it […] In my mind, I was thinking there’s no way these are the real people,” he says. “And then Robben walks in the room, and it’s a real guy, it’s not a cartoon.”
“[I] shook his hand and he introduced himself, very polite, humble guy, it was amazing,” he adds. “Everything I’ve accomplished, it’s been amazing […] when I got my opportunity, I told myself, ‘Take your opportunity,’ and I took it.”
He especially looks up to ex-teammate David Alaba, who has joined Real Madrid after over 10 years at the Bavarian club. “I was very excited to meet David Alaba because obviously when we were little, he was a role model for most of the kids back home.”
‘I’m excited for the future’
Davies is gearing up for new changes on the horizon, with RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann set to take over from Flick as the club’s head coach next season.
“We know he’s a good coach coming in. He has new ideas, new style of play,” he says. “We know he’s on the younger side of the coaching world, but that doesn’t matter […] he’s going to come in and really bring his wisdom and what he knows to the football club.”
Despite a changing of the guard, Davies’ aspirations for the club remain the same, with the intention of winning the Champions League in 2022 and clinching six trophies in one season.
“We know it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be really difficult. But I feel like with the team, we can do it again.”
“My time is not done with Bayern. I still have a lot more years there and a lot more trophies to win, so I’m excited for the future.”
Since sustaining a tear in his left ankle during Canada’s build-up to the Gold Cup, Bayern announced in July that Davies will spend some time “on the sidelines” and rehab in Munich.
Davies has since returned to training. Bayern’s first Bundesliga game is against Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday, August 13.