19.06.2024 18:36 h

Davies given Canada captaincy

Alphonso Davies will captain Canada in the Copa America opener against world champions Argentina with the 23-year-old Bayern Munich winger saying it will be a moment of real pride.

Canada's American coach Jesse Marsch opted to make Davies his captain for the tournament meaning he will line up against his counterpart Lionel Messi for the coin toss on Thursday.

Davies, who was born to Liberian parents in a refugee camp in Ghana, arrived in Canada as a five-year-old and has become the country's best ever talent in the game and he acknowledged his personal story ahead of the game.

"They took me in, they made me one of their own. I love this country. I think before the game, obviously, there are going to be a lot of emotions, you know leading out the team against Argentina," Davies told a press conference on Wednesday.

"It's gonna be big and being able to wear the armband for the first official time in my career would be something spectacular," he said.

"It's a great honor. I thank Jesse for putting the trust in me and also the guys that have trusted me to lead this team. I'm very happy to wear the armband for this country and it's something you dream about as a kid," he said.

Marsch said that his decision had the support of the senior players in the team but that he didn't want Davies to let the responsibility change his approach to the game.

"We talked with the leadership council about Fonzie being the captain and then the guys spoke and they all said to him - 'you don't have to change, you have to be yourself'

"What I've seen since I've gotten to know Fonzie is a guy that cares a lot for the national team, a guy that wants to take on a bigger role, who trains hard and leads by example," said the former Leeds United manager.

Marsch said Davies was much more than a star player who will encourage his team-mates as the team looks to improve ahead of the 2026 World Cup, which Canada will co-host with the USA and Mexico.

"He is also challenging the group to improve and get better and so he's one of the youngest players on the squad but he is also equipped with a lot of the qualities to be one of the biggest leaders and the most important players, certainly when we get to 2026," he said.

"We don't expect him to get everything perfect right now and by the way captains don't have to get everything perfect all the time anyway, but for sure I think that he will have a platform and the support and an opportunity to grow within the role and continue to become everything that we know that he will become," he added.

Davies has been linked in media reports with a possible move to Real Madrid during the current European club off-season but, asked about those reports said he would only think about his options after Copa America.

"My main focus right now is my national team, to play well in this tournament, to help my team go far," he said. "As of now that is where my head is at."