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Family friend Nick Huoseh helping guide Canada teenager Alphonso Davies' career

Asked at a Bayern Munich video news conference this week about his role models on and off the pitch, Alphonso Davies cited Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the football players he looked up to. The Canadian teenager then went closer to home.

Asked at a Bayern Munich video news conference this week about his role models on and off the pitch, Alphonso Davies cited Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the football players he looked up to.

The Canadian teenager then went closer to home.

"Off the field, I think it would my manager Nick Huoseh," he said. "He taught me the value of respecting others, taught me the value of just being myself, taught me how to live life — just be kind to everyone." 

Huoseh (pronounced Ho-zee) is not your typical player representative. Owner and founder of Edmonton's ASI Tech, which specializes in building communication systems in the oil and gas sector, the 50-year-old is an electrical engineering technologist by trade. 

Davies, born in a Ghanaian refugee camp after his parents fled the civil war in Liberia, was five when he came to Canada. He was 10 when Huoseh first met him in youth soccer — already a special talent.

Huoseh coached his son Adam and Davies on the Edmonton Strikers, giving a young Davies rides to and from practices and games.

"He spent a lot of time with us and our family," he said.

Coaching Davies from 11 to 14 1/2, Huoseh got to know Davies' family. And one thing led to another as interest in the young Davies grew.

"There was never a plan to be his agent, his adviser, representative whatever you want to call me," he said. "I was just helping him out initially when we took him to Vancouver."

Davies was 14 when he moved to Vancouver to join the Whitecaps residency program. The Whitecaps sent him back after an initial evaluation but invited him back a few months later after watching him excel against an older team.

After joining Whitecaps 2 as the youngest player to ever sign a USL contract, he made his first-team debut at 15 years 257 days — becoming the second-youngest player in MLS history after Freddy Adu.

"Definitely he's a generational player — a special player," said Huoseh.  

Business would talk Huoseh to Vancouver every couple of months and he would check in on Davies and meet with the Whitecaps.

"Just report back to his parents, basically," he said. "And I was just doing that as a family friend."

As news of Davies' talent spread, agents arrived like moths to a flame. Huoseh recommended that the family hire an agent for Alphonso's next soccer step and started narrowing a list for them.

He sat down with the parents and started going through the options until Alphonso's mother stopped him and asked why Huoseh couldn't keep looking after her son.

"It's not my area of expertise," he replied, saying he was worried he might make a mistake.

"She said 'We're not worried about that,'" Huoseh recalled.

Alphonso, then 16, also approved of the idea and Huoseh continued on as his representative.

Former Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi, no stranger to dealing with player agents, appreciates the tight Davies-Huoseh bond.

"I just love the story," said Lenarduzzi, now club liaison for the Whitecaps. "The fact the family arrives in Edmonton and he's there. And he doesn't know what's going to evolve. But he provides the opportunity, picks Alphonso up and looks after him.

"Agents were coming out of the woodwork once they saw the kid had this potential. But he was very loyal to Nick and Nick to him ... I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a similar type of arrangement."

"It's loyalty both ways. And I love it," he added.

It was a steep learning curve for Huoseh, who at one point hired a veteran English independent agent to help negotiate Davies' next career step after the Whitecaps. The goal was to find six top European clubs who were interested.

Manchester United fit the bill, but an off-season opportunity to train with the English giant for three weeks fell through.

Bayern Munich persisted, reaching out to the Whitecaps directly. Davies was signed by Bayern from Vancouver in July 2018 in a US$22-million transfer deal, an MLS record at the time. He started to train with his new team in November after the end of the Whitecaps season.  

Huoseh is now Davies' sole representative, travelling to Germany eight times last year. He has sold some shares in his company to employees and cut back on his duties to ease the load.

Agents continue to come after the 19-year-old Davies. But Huoseh remains his trusted adviser.

"Alphonso's family knows me. I don't need to make a deal to pay my bills tomorrow," Huoseh said. "I've been running my company since 2003. I've had up to 68 technicians and employees in the field.

"So I've done well. Financially I've been fortunate. I started with nothing. My father came to this country as a refugee (from Palestine). I worked hard. He raised us well."

Huoseh liked Bayern from the beginning. The club had a plan for Davies, as did rival Stuttgart. Bayern came in with a PowerPoint presentation. 

Davies' initial deal, negotiated by Huoseh, went through 2023. That has since been ripped up, replaced with a richer, longer contract that runs through 2025.

Talks to renegotiate the deal were instigated by Bayern, who found a home for Davies at left back after shifting Austrian international David Alaba to central defence.

Negotiations began in January in Munich, continuing in London and Munich in February around Bayern's Champions League date with Chelsea. The new agreement was to be announced in mid-March when Huoseh and Davies' father were slated to attend the second leg against Chelsea in Germany.

But the global pandemic intervened and the club ending up announcing the deal last week.

Davies and Bayern are back in training, while following physical distancing rules.

Despite a ban on all large gatherings through August in Germany, soccer officials hope to restart the league without spectators as early as May 9.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 29, 2020.


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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press