Bayern prodigy Davies will be best in world, says Jets mentor Robinson


When one-time protege Alphonso Davies tormented and teased Nelson Semedo to set up Bayern Munich’s fifth in their 8-2 UEFA Champions League humiliation of Barcelona, a knowing smile crossed the lips of Newcastle Jets coach Carl Robinson 18,000km away on the Hunter.

It was the ex-Wales international who spotted and polished the potential of one of world football’s most exciting young stars, handing him his Major Soccer League debut for Vancouver Whitecaps at the age of just 15 back in 2016.

Some advised against such a bold move but Robinson, who has transformed the Jets in his 11 games in charge, backed his judgement.

It was also Robinson, during his four years with the Whitecaps, who converted the now 19-year-old Canada international from a fledgling winger to the dancing left-back we see today, tearing up the Bundesliga and Champions League.

The manner in which Davies brushed past a bemused Semedo to surge into penalty box and cleverly pick out right-back Joshua Kimmich for a tap-in was mesmeric.

But Robinson wasn’t surprised by what left others agog.

“It puts smiles on people’s faces when a player progresses, and in Alphonso’s case progresses very quickly,” he said.

“I am just one person in his football journey - the one who gave him his professional debut because I saw something very special in him. You need people to take a chance on you and I was able to do that with Alphonso.

“But it was down to him to capitalise ... he came in with a free mind, showed no fear and was always smiling and happy.

“I remember when he made his debut for us it was a Tuesday night and he had to be at school the next day!

“The way he’s progressing, for me he’s on his way to being one of the very best players in the world.”

A combination of pace and technique melded with vision and the ability to deliver into dangerous areas, Davies has improved exponentially since joining Bayern’s finishing school 18 months ago.

“He’s got the best players around him and quality coaching but he deserves all the credit because he’s a fantastic player and a phenomenal young man,” added Robinson.

“The way he went past Semedo from a standing start reminds me of a young Ryan Giggs, who was that quick over just three or four yards.

“The way he didn’t rush into his decision making for the goal showed why he’s at a huge club like Bayern Munich. That was brilliant.”

Explaining his decision to transform the attack-minded youngster into a full-back, Robinson added: “Major League Soccer was very physical and I tried to keep him out of the middle of the park because it was so congested.

“I thought he’d get more space and freedom to express himself coming from deeper.

“I wanted him to be able to get in behind because that’s one of his strengths.

“At first people were saying he shouldn’t be playing there, but Bayern moved David Alaba from left back to left-sided centre back because they saw in him what I did, which is great.

“He’s already one of the best in the world in his position and has still got a lot of development in him.

“He’s also got great humility and a determination to keep learning.”

Robinson sees Ashley Cole and Gareth Bale-like qualities in Davies and is confident his career can reach the heights of both.

“His positioning and footwork will improve with experience,” he added. “But Ashley Cole at the same age wasn’t the perfect defender and Gareth Bale at 21, playing as a (left back turned) winger at Tottenham had developing to do too.

“Alphonso has a kick-start on these boys because he’s playing at such a high level, a year or two before them.

“Consistency is the key and suddenly the expectation will rise now, and that will be the big test for him in the months and years ahead.”

Source SBS The World Game