Captain taking refuge in Canada: Alphonso Davies in the spotlight of the Copa América

On Thursday, as Canada makes its Copa América debut against Lionel Messi of Inter Miami and Argentina in Atlanta, Davies begins a new test. He was recently named captain, while FC Porto midfielder Stephen Eustáquio serves as vice-captain.

It’s the stuff of dreams: an MLS academy graduate leading the Reds against the reigning World Cup champions and eight-time Ballon d’Or winner, whose arrival ushered in a new era in the history of the league.

“Even though I wasn’t born (in Canada), I felt like I was born in Canada because of my young age,” Davies, who was 5 when his family arrived, told media before this week’s opening match. “When we arrived in Canada, the country truly welcomed us as its own. I love this country, and I think before the match there will be a lot of emotions, leading our team against an opponent like this.

Still the fourth youngest player on the team, Davies already has 47 Canadian caps and has experience of world football well beyond his years. Yet it’s not the winning or the goals that matter most to new head coach Jesse Marsch, but his emergence as an emotional leader in a formative era of Canadian football.

“He has a real presence and gravitas in his personality and who he is,” the former CF Montreal and New York Red Bulls coach said of Davies, who played for the Whitecaps from 2015 to 2018. “We know he’s still young and he’s not a finished product as a captain… but the guys have spoken and they’ve all told him, ‘You don’t have to change; you just have to be yourself.

“He’s a guy who cares a lot about this team and this country, and someone who wants to take on a bigger role, trains hard and leads by example.”

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