George Weah - Africa's Only Legitimate Claim to the Ballon d'Or

George Oppong Weah, former professional football player and the 25th president of Liberia, was born near Monrovia in 1966. At the peak of his soccer career, Weah was named European, African, and World Footballer of the Year in 1995, an unprecedented achievement.

George Oppong Weah
George Oppong Weah - president style

Early Life

Weah was born of peasant parents. His father was a mechanic in Monrovia, where his mother sold household goods in a local market. He learned to play football in the city's dusty streets before joining the Invincible Eleven. He later played for Mighty Barolle, Bongrange Bonguine, and Young Survivors, all in his neighborhood of Claretown. He supplemented his earnings working for his country's telecommunications corporation.

Professional Career

The former Cameroonian national coach Claude Le Roy spotted the Liberian star's talents and linked him with Arsène Wenger. The former Arsenal coach brought him to Monaco from Tonnerre Yaoundé, a Cameroonian club for £12,000.

Weah won the African Player of the Year in 1989 and the Coupe de France two years later during his Monaco career. A year later, he helped his club reach the European Cup Winners' Cup finals.

Later the same year, he transferred to Paris Saint-Germain. With PSG, he won the Coupe de France twice in 1993 and 1995, the French league in 1994, and the Coupe de la Ligue in 1995.

During the 1994/95 season, PSG reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, and Weah was the top scorer, netting seven goals.

After a successful stint in Paris, Weah joined AC Milan in 1995 and won Serie A the following season, finishing as the team's top scorer. He was part of the AC Milan team that won the league again in 1999. Despite all his luck in domestic soccer, Weah and AC Milan were not as lucky in the continental arena.

However, they reached the quarterfinals of the 1995-96 UEFA Cup.

After a spell in Italy, he joined Chelsea on loan. His tenure in Chelsea was a success even though the Liberian was evidently past his prime. However, his stellar performance did not convince Chelsea to sign him at the end of the loan spell. Instead, he left Milan at the end of the season to join the newly-promoted Manchester City.

After a somewhat lucklustre spell at Manchester City, he went back to France to play for Marseille. He left the French club to join Al-Jazira of the UAE Pro-League, staying for two seasons.

International Career

Weah debuted for the Liberian team in 1986 in a game against Sierra Leone. He was capped 75 times over two decades, scoring 18 goals. He helped Liberia qualify for the African Cup of Nations twice in 1996 and 2002.

Outstanding Awards

Weah exhibited athleticism, skill, and goal-scoring prowess that made him famous. He scored some of his team's most notable goals. His impressive performances at PSG and AC Milan earned him several individual awards, such as the Ballon d'Or and the Onze d'Or. French Magazine gave the latter to celebrate the best player in Europe.

The Liberian also bagged FIFA World Player of the Year, becoming the first and only African to win the award to date. His FIFA award is a dedication to Arsène Wenger. He credits the legendary Frenchman for developing him into a world-class player.

Political Life

Weah was elected Liberia's 25th president in 2017.
Joe David was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and writes more than good about football, preferably with a focus on African players and the success of African national teams on the football field.