Phonso as they call him here is as unique as they come and he is with the Canadian football team which is in the World Cup for the first time since 1986. He was born in a refugee camp in Ghana before his parents moved to Canada and settled in Vancouver.
Today, Alphonso Davies is one of the most feared and effective football players in the world. And he is a lovely young man with a lot of followers on his social where he is very funny singing and dancing to entertain his fans.
At 19 years of age, he was picked by Beyern Munich, one of the biggest football clubs in the world. Up to now my son and I who love him keep asking ourselves how Beyern found him. They must have an amazing scouting team.
Phonso is a left-back who can run the ball forward to make assists and score goals. At the back, you are not getting by that young man. He plays as a wingback in his game style, although Bayern does not play back three where wingbacks are needed, he just created that position for himself and they love it over there.
Then we have Antonio Rudiger playing for Germany as a center-back. He has few equals in his game as a defender. He is a tough and terrifying defender and he runs the teams he plays for like he did at Chelsea where he helped them win the UEFA championship cup in 2021. He is now with the powerhouse Real Madrid.
Rudiger’s parents are from Sierra Leone and he has offered to donate all his earnings from the World Cup tournament to Sierra Leone to help young people in his country who need support.
In defense, he is a phenomenon as he can defend with his height in the air where you have no chance. He runs the ball forward with his long strides and before the other team knows it he is in the box and passing the ball to scorers.
When there are corner kicks for his team, the other side has to put all defense on Rudiger because he is going to head that ball in. His passion for the game is unmatchable. Anybody messing with his teammates will see Rudiger in their faces momentarily and get a push that makes them go away very quickly.
We also have the magician Kevin De Bruyne playing Belgium. In my view, Du Bruyne is the best football player in the world today and probably one of the best ever to put his foot on that ball.
Kevin De Bruyne can do everything on the football field. He is a midfielder by position but he plays everywhere on the field. He has helped Manchester City win five English Premier League cups so far and he is on the way leading them to another championship trophy in 2022.
In mid field nobody can pass him and when he goes forward anything is possible. He will get the assist for the forward players or just bang the ball in the back of the net. He is also a very quiet coach in the field helping Pep at City to organize the team and cause damage to the other team. We probably will not see anybody like him in football for a long time.
And who doesn’t know Édouard Mendy the indomitable Senegalese goalkeeper?
Mendy is leading his team to the World Cup after helping them win the African Cup of Nations in 2021. They have a real tough final game in that tournament going against Egypt and facing one of the most brilliant scorers in this generation, Mohamed Salah.
Before that, Mendy who joined Chelsea in 2020 led them to win the UEFA cup in 2021 after posting more shutouts in the Premier League than any other goalkeeper. This is one guy who won the UEFA cup, won the African Cup of Nations, and then won the World Club cup with Chelsea. That is three international trophies in one year. Give me anybody else who has done anything close. There is none.
There is this kid Ansu Fati who is just starting his football career and could the world of football somewhere else.
Ansu Fati was born in Guinea-Bissau in 2002 and will be playing for Spain as he starts his life in football. He can score goals and make assists as he does for Barcelona where he plays.
The scary thing about this kid is that it tells you how screwed up we are in Africa in terms of sports. If this kid didn’t make it to Spain, he would be picking garbage for food in his own country. That is what happens to brilliant football prospects in our country.
Forget about improving your skills in anything. Join Kazi Mtaani or go pick up poo and dead bodies cleaning the Nairobi river. What else do you want?
And the one the whole world will miss mightily.
He is only 23 years old and just like his buddy Mendy won three trophies in one year playing as a right-back defender and he does it all. He can clean any attackers pocket in a hurry. He runs the ball forward with bewildering speed. He will make that assist or just blast the ball into the opposition’s net.
He is an expert spot-kick guy including those corners he puts lingering for a header to put it in the net. He can also play center and although he is not as tall as other defenders, his air defense is excellent.
Some people say he should be moved into midfield to take advantage of his amazing skills. We will see how that goes but I keep telling my nephew who is playing the same position with Mukumu Boys High school to keep looking at Reece James and to make sure they can beat Kakamega Green Commandos in their championship game.
The young boy at home is doing his final exams starting this Monday so I told him today to forget about football for now. That is not going to happen with the World Cup in place but I am watching him very closely.
Adongo Ogony is a Kenyan Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada