Faces of Africa: King George Serves His country

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George Weah was named African Footballer of the Century by a panel of journalists.jpg

The Chinese Central Television, CCTV recently sent a team to Liberia and completed a documentary prominent Africans who made considerable contribution to the world of sports, along with leaving a legacy for future generations.

The team focused on soccer icon, George Manneh Weah and during almost a week in Monrovia, traveled to several places, including Clara Town where the legend began his soccer career.

The team of a reporter and two cameramen engaged several individuals, who spoke enthusiastically about the man known to European football fans as King George. Weah was also interviewed while he was in United States for the program.

The team paid a visit to the Daily Observer and spent considerable time with the Observer’s sports writers on back issues of the paper that dealt with the progress of George Weah, and this writer had the opportunity to be interviewed on his experiences covering the period that George Weah and his team were making headlines, not only in Europe but in Liberia.(Check here for the documentary: http://ow.ly/roDwi

The documentary depicts George Weah as one of the finest African players ever to grace the European continent’s stadiums and more than a footballer, George, despite his retirement from the game, has become an icon in Liberia, where he strives to build his legacy not only as a successful athlete, but as a man who dedicated his life to his fellow Liberians.

It described the marshland slums of Clara Town, Monrovia where youngsters start playing football almost as soon as they can walk. “Their commitment to the game is especially strong, and for good reason: they play on the same field that saw the beginnings of a man who will surely go down in history as one of the greatest Africa footballers of all time,”  a CCTV narrator said. 

The documentary explains the inspiring nature of George Weah’s career from a slum community in Liberia to the top flight of European football. It says he is still the example that Liberian aspiring footballers strive to emulate today.

The narrator recounts King George’s early association with Mighty Barolle and Invincible Eleven, though leaving out Bong Range United and Young Survivors.   It also notes the exceptional role Weah had in scoring goals during games with other clubs of the period.

“George was magnificent and when there was no goal, George would come on and he would make the difference,” someone comments in an interview.

The narrator reviews his soccer career at 22, after playing in Cameroon for a while and then moving on to Europe by current Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, then the chief technician at AS Monaco. Weah was extremely successful in the Ligue 1, the top division in French football, scoring 79 goals in 199 appearances for Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain.

Weah’s influence on the pitch and his astounding dribbling skills caught the attention of one of the most prestigious clubs on the continent: Italian giants AC Milan. “It was after transferring to Milan that George was at the peak of his ability. He won award after award, including the prestigious Ballon d’Or, Fifa World Player of the Year and was voted African player of the Century, elevating him to the company of such illustrious players as Brazilian legend Pele and mythical Dutchman Johan Cruyff,” the narrator said.

A portion of the narration was devoted to his career as a politician when he publicly called for the UN to intervene in the disastrous civil war that raged between 1989 and 1996. That action reportedly angered then President Charles Taylor.

“When I was on the field, for 90 minutes I tried to uphold the positive image of Liberia. After the match, I would go home and it was like my whole world was crumbling,” Weah explains.

The narrator explains about his use of his (George Weah’s) personal resources to finance the national soccer team, Lone Star, including paying for chartered flights and all expenses.

Weah explains why: “It was my responsibility.” In the documentary Weah also explains being an active philanthropist in the field of education.

After his retirement in 2003, he decided to go into politics and ran for president in 2005, losing the run off by 19% margin as well as his unsuccessful attempt as vice president in 2011.

He has every intention of running for president again in 2017. “My dream is for every Liberian to be part of the society and that everyone live the Liberian dream that we all expect.”

Please check here for the documentary:  http://ow.ly/roDwi

 

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