The Sunday Magazine

Nedal Huoseh never meant to be a soccer agent. Now he manages Alphonso Davies

Nedal Huoseh never expected to be the manager of one of Canada’s brightest young soccer stars. He wasn’t even that into soccer growing up. But now he’s watching Alphonso Davies play at the top level of soccer in the world.

Huoseh coached Davies, now representing Canada at the World Cup, when he was just 11 years old

Nedal Huoseh, right, helped Alphonso Davies, left, land his first professional soccer contract. (Submitted by Nedal Huoseh )

Nedal Huoseh never expected to be the manager of one of Canada's brightest young soccer stars. Now he's watching Alphonso Davies play at the top level of soccer in the world. 

"For me, it's exciting because, hey, to watch the kid that I used to coach and we've been on this journey with for the last few years, playing in a World Cup," Huoseh told The Sunday Magazine.

"Hopefully Canada will get out of the group stage and move on. And that's what we'd like to see. But yeah. Exciting. Can't wait."

Canada is playing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and this is the first time the men's team has made it to the tournament in decades — thanks in no small part to Davies, and by extension, Huoseh.

Coaching Alphonso

Huoseh didn't plan on becoming an agent, or even a coach. He wasn't even that into soccer growing up; he was more of an American football guy. 

The journey started when he signed up his eight-year-old son to play with a local soccer club in Edmonton, and was told the team couldn't play because they didn't have a coach.

"I'm standing there and looking around, all these young boys are crushed," said Huoseh. 

"I looked at my son, he was sad … and I said, okay, you know what? I'll do it."

Nedal Huoseh didn't have much soccer experience, but agreed to coach when his son's team needed one. (Submitted Nedal Huoseh)

Huoseh admits he is far from a soccer expert, having only played the game for a few years when he was in school. But he was learning. He'd watch videos on Youtube, and pick up drills online. 

He stepped away from local coaching after a few years to focus on his own business, but was called into service a few years later when his son's team once again needed his services.

This time, though, he found himself training an 11-year-old Alphonso Davies.

Huoseh could tell right away that Davies was what he called a generational player. But it was at a tournament in Dallas where Huoseh realized the 13-year-old was going to be a star.

"He was just a machine out there," said Huoseh. "He was just wrecking guys on the field, like, in a bad way, and so bad that [opposing players] would just grab his jersey, pull him, kick him in the ankle."

Huoseh recalled one time when the other team's players were so frustrated with how Davies was playing against them, Huoseh subbed him out for fear he would be injured. 

He wasn't the only one who noticed Davies's talent. The Vancouver Whitecaps, a team in North America's top men's soccer league, reached out to sign the budding star.

Nedal Huoseh first coached Canadian soccer star Alphonso Davies when he was just 11 years old. (Submitted by Nedal Huoseh)

Becoming an agent

Davies' parents were unsure about their son going off the chase a soccer dream. The young soccer prodigy's mother asked Huoseh what he would do if it was his son. Huoseh said he would let him give it a shot.

Huoseh wanted to find Davies an agent, as some teams in Europe were taking interest in the young star. 

He narrowed down a list of names as possible agents for Davies's parents. But they weren't interested; Davies's mother asked Huoseh to take on the job instead.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (1) makes a save on a penalty kick from Canada forward Alphonso Davies (19) during first half Group F World Cup soccer action at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

"I said I'd be really worried to make a mistake, and then you're going to be very upset with me … And they said, no, we'd like for you to do this," he recalled.

Davies agreed, so Huoseh agreed too — but not before hiring an established soccer agent as a consultant.

Huoseh negotiated Davies' deal to play for Germany's Bayern Munich, one of the top teams in Europe. 

World Cup challenge

In the years since he first agreed to represent Davies, Huoseh's portfolio has grown, and he has started representing other players.

Now he gets to watch Davies, now 22, play on the biggest stage of soccer.

"He loves the challenge and he wants to be challenged. And he's already against the best, so this is just a continuation for him," he said.

In Canada's first game of the World Cup, Davies and crew lost 1-0 to Belgium. Davies missed a penalty kick early in the game, but it was still a strong showing from the Canadians. 

Canada plays its second game of the group stage on Sunday versus Croatia. Their third game will be against Morocco on Dec. 1.


Produced by Sarah-Joyce Battersby.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Drost is a journalist with the CBC. You can reach him on Twitter @phildrost or by email at philip.drost@cbc.ca.

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