At a time of year when Canadian sports fans are usually talking about the World Junior Hockey Championships (man-handling Finland 4-1 yesterday, and out of pity I won’t mention what they did to Germany), suddenly the country is paying tribute to soccer, and their rising star Alphonso Davies.
We have already reported that Davies was the co-recipient of the Lou Marsh Trophy for 2020, the award given out by a panel of top journalists to the best athlete in the country for that year regardless of sex. He also became the first North American nominated to FIFA’s FIFPro Best XI. But this was only the beginning.
Davies can now add to his personal trophy case the prestigious Lionel Conacher Award given out by the Canadian Press for the best male athlete of the year. Davies was the first soccer player to win the coveted award and joins the ranks of greats like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Gordie Howe, Donovan Bailey and Ferguson Jenkins in holding it.
And not to leave any honours out of his palmarès, Davies has now won the Postmedia Mail Athlete of the Year Award, yet another well regarded national honour. The Toronto Sun, (a Post Media company) described his accomplishments in glowing terms:
Arguably, it was the most remarkable year ever by a Canadian athlete.
All of this attention has not gone to Davies’ head, but it is changing how Canada fits into the world sports landscape. By starring on an international stage and receiving FIFA recognition, the young star has put Canada on the international soccer map (although I think Platini still bears cleat scars from Bruce Wilson and friends). Perhaps more importantly the reverse is true. Davies’ burst into international stardom has all of Canada’s sports fans turning their heads towards the beautiful game and that can only be a good thing for the future of Canadian soccer.