Last week, through the remarkably precise tool that is the Twitter poll, we asked our readers a simple question: Is Alphonso Davies, just a few weeks shy of his 20th birthday, already the most popular Edmontonian… ever?
And, according to a wide majority of the 338 respondents, the answer is a resounding affirmative. Just a hair under 60 per cent said “yes.”
From the St. Nicholas Junior High to the biggest sports stages on the planet, Davies has established himself as one of the best fullbacks in soccer,. His highlight-reel run to set up a goal in the Champions League semifinal became a global meme.
He’s won the Champions League, the biggest pro sporting competition in the world. He’s a regular starter with Bayern Munich, a sports name so big that even people who don’t follow sports know it. Millions upon millions of people watch him play every week,.
He’s got 2.4 million followers on Instagram.
To say the rise is meteoric is unfair. Meteors don’t move that fast.
Now, the Edmonton-raised Davies still has some competition when it comes to Edmontonians. People who commented on our poll repeatedly brought up the names Michael J. Fox, comedian Tommy Chong and actor Nathan Fillion.
It should be noted that while McFly/Alex P. Keaton was born in Edmonton, Burnaby, B.C. claims him as he spent more of his formative years there.
As for Wayne Gretzky? There’s no doubting what Gretzky meant for the Oilers, but, being the pride of Brantford, Ont. might not qualify him. But he’s got a statue downtown and a major thoroughfare in this city named for him, so let’s not for a second think that loving Alphonso Davies is akin to slagging the Great One. It really is apples to oranges.
You could also make cases for the likes of Leslie Nielsen, Marshall McLuhan or a number of NHL players who came from this city. But hockey doesn’t have the global profile that top-level soccer does. What’s amazing is turning on Europe-based broadcasts and hear the commentators mentioning “Edmonton, Canada” or pictures of Edmonton being shown the pre-game or halftime extravaganzas. Davies has arguably done more to raise this city’s profile globally than any advertising or PR campaign could. He’s not only an athlete of note, he’s become the city’s global ambassador. And he’s carrying it with enthusiasm.
And, it’s clear the city loves him back.
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This article appears in the Summer 2020 issue of Avenue Edmonton.