After months of debate, the waiting is over.
Alphonso Davies was revealed on Tuesday as the co-winner of the 2020 Lou Marsh Trophy, awarded annually to the top athlete in Canada for the past year. For just the third time in the award’s history, voting resulted in a tie, meaning Davies will share the honour this year with Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
The award, first awarded in 1936, is one of the most prestigious individual accolades a Canadian athlete can win. This year, Davies and Duvernay-Tardift were voted the co-winners during a virtual meeting of journalists from major media outlets across the country, with the final tally counting 18 votes for both Davies and Duvernay-Tardif.
The only other times the Lou Marsh has been awarded to co-winners after a tied vote were in 1978, when skier Ken Read shared it with swimmer Graham Smith, and 1983, when Wayne Gretzky and Rick Hansen both won.
Davies is the first male soccer player ever to win the Lou Marsh, joining Christine Sinclair as the only footballers to receive the honour. Sinclair won in 2012, after her dominant performance at the London Olympics en route to Canada’s bronze medal.
Davies, a 20-year-old Edmontonian, edged out (most of) his competition after an incredible breakout 2019-20 season with Bayern Munich in Germany. He was instrumental for the Bavarian giants as they went on to win a treble — the Bundesliga championship, the DFB-Pokal (German Cup), and the UEFA Champions League. He also won the German Supercup and the UEFA Super Cup in 2020, bringing his total trophies up to five. Individually, he was the Bundesliga’s rookie of the year, the runner-up for UEFA’s defender of the year, and he was named to the Champions League Best XI for 2019-20 (not to mention Canada Soccer’s male player of the year, of course).
Davies didn’t appear for the Canadian men’s team in 2020, with all their matches since January postponed due to the pandemic, but his impressive national team career to date — including five goals in 17 appearances since 2016 — is another important piece of his body of work.
Of course, Davies has also caught global attention for the inspiring story of his rise to stardom. Born in a Ghanaian refugee camp, he and his family moved to Edmonton when Davies was five; from there, he rose from local football, to the Vancouver Whitecaps, to Bayern Munich.
Although 2020 was a difficult year by all accounts, on the whole, it was a rather successful one for Canadian athletes, meaning the field for this year’s Lou Marsh Trophy was very competitive. Plenty of accomplished athletes were in contention alongside Davies, from a wide variety of sports.
Duvernay-Tardif joins Davies as a co-winner for his achievements both on and off the field in 2020. He won the Super Bowl with the Chiefs last February, before opting out of the 2020 NFL season in order to work at a Montreal long-term care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, putting his medical degree from McGill University to good use.
Plenty of other worthy contenders were also considered for the award. Jamal Murray led the Denver Nuggets to the NBA’s Western Conference Final, and Davies’ fellow footballer, Kadeisha Buchanan, was named Canada Soccer’s female player of the year last week after helping Olympique Lyonnais to a treble-winning season. Rounding out the top five finalists was Christine Sinclair, who last winter became the all-time leading goalscorer in international soccer during Canada’s Olympic qualifying campaign.
As winners of the Lou Marsh Trophy, Davies and Duvernay-Tardif join the illustrious company of previous recipients such as Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash, and Terry Fox, as well as 2019’s winner Bianca Andreescu.
The 84-year-old award is named for Lou Marsh, a former sports editor of the Toronto Star.