George Weah says Arsène Wenger is like a father to him, and admitted he needed the Arsenal manager’s help to have any success in Europe.
Weah spoke about his former boss ahead of the Liberian presidential election. The former Monaco striker is set to contest a runoff vote against Joseph Boakai, since he didn’t get over 50% of the original vote.
The 51-year-old said in The Guardian: “He (Wenger) was a father figure and regarded me as his son. This was a man, when racism was at its peak, who showed me love. He wanted me to be on the pitch for him every day.
“One day, I was quite tired of training and told him that I was having a headache. He said to me: ‘George, I know it’s tough but you need to work hard. I believe that with your talent, you can become one of the best players in the world.’
“So, I listened and kept going on. Besides God, I think that without Arsène, there was no way I would have made it in Europe.”
Wenger jumped the gun earlier this month, congratulating the ex-footballer before the Liberian government formally announced the results. However, it does seem likely that Weah could win the vote, since he took 39% of the original poll, versus Boakai’s 29.1%.
Perhaps the 68-year-old just got excited for his former player. Clearly, the two retain a lot of respect for each other, and the Arsenal manager was evidently a positive influence. They spent four successful years together at Monaco, with Weah scoring 66 goals before moving to Paris Saint-Germain.
Then, Weah won the Ballon d’Or just a few seasons later. He was the first African player to win the award, inspired by Wenger’s advice and motivation. The Liberian’s success in the European game is certainly something the Arsenal boss can be proud of. I suspect there are many more players who owe their careers to Wenger in the same way.