Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Paul Stalteri: Alphonso Davies has exceeded all expectations

Posted on 30 December 2020 by Colin Benjamin
https://twitter.com/FIFPro/status/1343104404522737671?s=20

Former Tottenham Hotspur and Canada international Paul Stalteri believes the sky’s the limit for Alphonso Davies after the Bayern Munich defender was named in the FIFPro World XI at this month’s FIFA Awards.

The selection of Davies at left back created numerous firsts. He is the first CONCACAF and Canadian player to be named in the World XI, as well as the third-youngest ever player and only the third player from outside Europe and South America, after Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o.

https://twitter.com/CanadaSoccerEN/status/1339664040608468992?s=20

“It speaks volumes to what he has achieved this season. He has become a significant part of the Bayern Munich team across big games and it’s a credit to what he has accomplished since arriving in Munich,” said Stalteri, who represented Tottenham Hotspur from 2005-2008.

He continued: “He has exceeded all expectations in Germany. When he got there initially things were moving a bit slow where he was playing a lot of games in the second team, where he was just finding his footing just a couple of months into last season.

“Now he found his place at left back where he has now been recognized as the best player in the world in that position. He is a great kid and it’s a pleasure to see him doing well in one of the biggest clubs in the world.”

Before this FIFA accolade and Champions league triumph, another significant moment for 20 year old Davies in his fledgling career was scoring in Canada’s 2-0 triumph over the U.S.A in an October 2019 CONCACAF Nations League fixture. This was the first time Canada defeated the Americans in a competitive international since 1985.

In that match, Davies played as an attacker, unlike his usual left back role for Bayern Munich. Stalteri, a former full back himself, was asked for his view on the school of thought that, similar to Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, world football could one day see Davies progress further as an attacking player.

“I think he is versatile enough to play in a few different positions. He is so talented and has strong physical acumen. Obviously in a club like Bayern it’s harder to play in attacking positions because of the number of very good players in similar roles,” said Stalteri.

“However, if he plays for Canada, depending on the opponent in a particular game where he is needed in a different or attacking position, while I don’t know what the national coaching staff is thinking right now – I would imagine he would still be in contention to play in a role other than left back.”

In Canada’s football history, notable players such as Owen Hargreaves (Manchester United, Man City and Bayern Munich), Azmir Begovic (Stoke and Chelsea) and Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea) played for major European clubs and represented Canada at youth level. However, all three elected to represent other nations at senior level, with Hargreaves and Tomori appearing for England and Begovic for Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

So, before Alphonso Davies went to Bayern Munich, Stalteri could have reasonably claimed to have played for the most high profile club of any Canadian international, thanks to his stint at Tottenham.

One of Stalteri’s contributions that is most fondly remembered by the Spurs faithful is his injury time winner in the London derby against West Ham United in the 2006/07 season.

“In England it’s great and unique how fans never forget about moments between clubs and as former players you get reminded of it every once in a while. You never forget a moment like that,” said Stalteri, reflecting on his time at Tottenham.

He continued: “I was finishing my contract at Werder Bremen at the time where I had a fantastic time. But I always had aspirations of playing in a different country and England was high up on my list of places to play at that particular moment.”

“At that time in 2004/2005 the premier league was without doubt the strongest league in the world. You can debate that now, but in the early 2000s it was a clear cut for me.

“You can see now what a massive club Spurs have become now. When I joined them, those seeds were being planted and the groundwork was being laid by chairman Daniel Levy. So it’s fantastic and impressive to see where they are now.”

During Stalteri’s time in Germany (from 1998-2005 with Werder Bremen and 2009-11 with Borussia Mönchengladbach), VfB Stuttgart, Borussia Dortmund, FC Kaiserslautern and VfL Wolfsburg won the Bundesliga.

Bayern Munich have won the Bundesliga every season since 2012/13, establishing the most dominant streak a club has had in German top flight history.

Does Stalteri, who won the Bundesliga with Bremen in 2003/04, think his countryman Davies and Bayern can be stopped ?

“When I was there [Bremen], even though Bayern were still dominant I don’t recall them running away with leagues as they have done in recent years. 

“It certainly seems harder for a team to win like I did with Bremen, much less the double. So currently, Alphonso looks set to enjoy a lot more success while he is Bayern which will be great for him and the Canadian national team.”