Arsene Wenger will this week travel to Liberia to receive the country’s highest honour for his role in helping the country’s president Geoge Weah develop as a footballer.

Wenger signed Weah when he was manager of Monaco, bringing the player from Africa in 1988 to Ligue 1. In 1996 Weah was named World Footballer of the Year as he won the Ballon d’Or and he remains the only African to have won the award.

Wenger will be joined by another former coach of Weah’s, Claude Le Roy.

“They will be honoured by the government of Liberia on August 24, National Flag Day for their role in President George Weah’s footballing career,” a spokesman said.

“Both coaches will be awarded the honour at an investiture ceremony in Monrovia.”

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George Weah and Arsene Wenger back in the day

Weah, 51, was elected president of his country in 2017 and has always maintained that Arsene Wenger played a pivotal role in his life.

The former striker said previously that Wenger is like a father to him, and admitted he needed the Arsenal manager’s help to succeed in Europe.

Weah was speaking about his former boss ahead of the Liberian presidential election that he went on to win.

He told the Guardian at the time: “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.

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“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 himself has said that George Weah’s life is like a film.

The Frenchman was speaking in his pre-Nottingham Forest press conference about the news. He said, “When you look at his life, the life of this guy is a film. It is unbelievable. It is a fantastic film.

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Liberian football legend Liberia’s George Weah answers journalists questions during a FIFA and France Football joint press conference after FIFA Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) award agreement on July 5, 2010 in Sandton, near Johannesburg.(STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

“I saw him in Monaco, looking lost, not knowing anybody, not being rated as a footballer, yet he became in 1995 the best player in the world and now he is president of his country. It is unbelievable.

“He was always strong mentally, convinced he has a mission. When he played at Monaco, it was during the time of war in Liberia and I saw how much he suffered with his country.

“The love for his country and his people, and the care he had for his people. Today when I look back, I have seen him crying when the war was on. But this is a happy story and I wish him a happy presidency. He is an example to all footballers.”

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Weah scored 66 goals for Wenger before moving to Paris Saint-Germain He won the Ballon d’Or just a few seasons later.

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.

The number who end up as president of their country, however, is bound to be significantly smaller.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.