Arsene Wenger has sent congratulatory messages to George Oppong Weah, who once dreamt of leading Liberia as its president despite setbacks from stronger oppositions during the 2005 presidential elections which he lost to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Image: George Oppon Weah
Weah, 51, has been a senator since 14 January, 2015 serving with Geraldine Doe-Sherif for Montserrado County. He has joined a list of ex-footballers who became successful politicians; Pele of Brazil and Zico both served as Sports Minsters.
‘We are one and together we must succeed in writing a new chapter in our country’s glorious history,’ Weah told his supporters during the last round of campaigns, Daily Mail reported.
‘The Liberia I dream of is one in which every one of its children, no matter the social status or ethnic background, can have an opportunity to succeed and a decent shot at a better life.’
Speaking to Arsenal.com at a press conference on Thursday, Wenger said, “I would like to congratulate one of my former players, who became president of Liberia, George Weah.
“It is not often that you have a former player who becomes a president of a country and so well done Georgie and I would say just for him to keep his enthusiasm and his desire to learn and to win.”
In the early 2000s, Liberia was synonymous with rapes, child soldiers and ethnic conflicts. The chaos was a follow-up to American-educated warlord Charles Taylor who started a rebellion in 1989, and notwithstanding the peace ushered in by a democratic government, the country has suffered from endemic corruption.
In a landmark success at the 2005 polls, Ellen took over the made of leadership and made bold attempts to steer her country back to greatness. Her efforts to restore stability in Liberia – one which was sadly suppressed by the Ebola pandemic – earned her a Noble Peace Prize.
And after 12 years in power, having made a lasting impact in Liberia’s once-fragile polity, the first female president is set to bow to Weah, who won FIFA’s Best Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or in 1995 as the world watched in applause.
Vice-President Joseph Boakai was next in line for the presidency in a wildly contested election but his dreams, after 11 long years in the shadows, was squashed by the retired footballer.
“The people in Liberia know who Joe Boakai is; how long he has served this country with integrity, with honesty…and they want that leadership that is trusted, corruption-free and [which] they are counting on,” Boakai, 72, told Newsweek in April during the campaigns.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) announced first official results in favor of George Weah on Thursday 12, October. He has three children: George Weah Jr, Tita and Timothy.