10 things you need to know about George Weah, ex-footballer and a front-runner in Liberia’s 2017 polls

    George Manneh Weah is a Liberian politician, a presidential candidate in the 2017 Liberian elections and a retired professional footballer who played as a striker. He is regarded one of the finest footballers of his generation and an all-time great.

    Liberia is a country on the West African coast bordering Guinea to its north, Sierra Leone to the west and Ivory Coast to the East, (Wikipedia). It is one of Africa’s first and oldest modern republic with a population of about 4.5 million people.

    Monrovia is the country’s capital and largest city.

    The country was marred by political unrests that led to a civil war in the 1980s resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, nearly 8 percent of the country’s population. This led to a deep in its economy, shrinking by 90 percent. However, a peace agreement in 2003 led to democratic elections in 2005 which Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the presidency. She recently announced her retirement.

    George Weah looks to succeed President Sirleaf in the ongoing 2017 presidential elections.

    Early results from the National Elections Commission (NEC) shows that he is in the lead. Although most votes are yet to be counted.

    The following are ten things you need to know about Mr. George Weah:

    1. He was born on October 1, 1966, in the slums of Monrovia, Liberia. A domestic quarrel led to the separation of his parents and was left to the cares of his grandmother.
    2. He later developed into an athletic teenager and started playing street soccer at the age of 15. His first club was Young Survivors Club but he later moved into other prominent clubs as his soccer skills developed.
    3. By age 22 he was discovered by Claude Le Roy- a Cameroonian national team coach who was instrumental in George Weah’s personal development and future prominence.
    4. Claude would later relay Weah’s abilities to Arsene Wenger, AS Monaco manager. In 1988, Wenger flew to Liberia to assess Weah’s abilities and signed him for Monaco.
    5. With little formal training, Weah turned out to be a great raw talent and commenced his European career with a blitz. He moved to Paris Saint-German in 1992 and helped the club win the French Cup and Ligue 1 title due to his prolific goal scoring abilities.
    6. He became the 1994-1995 Champions League top goal scorer. In 1995 he won the Ballon d’Or and was named FIFA World Player of the Year, becoming the first African player to win these awards. No other African player has achieved such a fete.
    7. George Weah won African player of the year in 1989 and 1994. In 1996, he was named the African Player of the 20th Century due to his football prowess.
    8. After his retirement from professional football, George Weah channeled his energies into Liberian affair and ran for Presidency as a member of the Congress for Democratic Change in 2005. However, he lost in a run-off to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
    9. In 2011, he ran again for the presidency but lost to President Sirleaf. In 2012 he agreed to represent Sirleaf’s administration as a peace ambassador and was elected as Senator of Montserrado County.
    10. He is a leading front-runner in the 2017 Liberian General election.