EDMONTON — Dozens of students at St. Nicholas Soccer Academy in Edmonton gathered Friday hoping to watch alumni Alphonso Davies make his official international soccer debut.
Davies, who is 18, joined Bayern Munich in Germany as a midfielder late last year and has played in one pre-season game with the team.
On Friday, he ended up watching the game from the bench as Bayern defeated Hoffenheim 3-1 to mark the league's return to action after its winter break.
Bayern teased Davies's possible participation with a pre-game tweet showing his No. 19 jersey hanging in a locker-room stall with the words: "It's all getting very real for Phonzie."
Davies, who lived in Edmonton with his family after coming to Canada as a refugee, attended the junior high school for three years.
Students in Grades 7, 8 and 9 at the Soccer Academy spent their lunch hour watching the game for a glimpse of Davies.
The Grade 9 students skipped their own soccer practice to stay and watch the full game.
"It's really exciting, because somebody from St. Nick's came and has gone so far in life," said Felix Mutuyemungu, 14. "He's an inspiration to all of us.
"Even when he comes around here, he's super nice and super respectful. He inspires me to be great."
Davies visited the school in October and again in December.
Tyra Montgomery, 14, said she has always looked up to Davies.
"He's an all-star to me," she said. "He's just amazing. I look up to him on so many levels. He's a fun person. He's always positive about everything."
Marco Bossio, who runs the academy, said it was a great experience for the students to watch the soccer match.
"It's unfortunate that we didn't see him on the field today, but it's still a great opportunity to get the kids together today and watch the level that Alphonso will be playing at," he said after the game.
"Hopefully next game he'll take to the pitch."
Mutuyemungu said it means a lot just knowing Davies will play for Bayern, a perennial favourite in Germany's Bundesliga.
"It's nice that somebody from Edmonton, somebody from St. Nick's, is going so far in life," he said. "As a Canadian, it's just so important. It's really helping us progress as a nation in soccer.
"We're all supporting him. We're all rooting for Alphonso, for him to go far in life, for him to go far in soccer. It's really nice that all of us could come and watch him."
Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press