Mamelodi Sundowns player Anthony Laffor in action during a game. Photo:
Anthony Laffor lets out a mischievous laugh filled with pride at the mention that he can boast about having “occupied” Liberia’s presidential office before President-elect George Weah.

“I brought that up the last time we spoke and we laughed about it,” Laffor said.

“I am happy that he won the elections. I was a part of his campaign because I believe he will bring the change Liberia needs.”

The No 28 jersey Laffor wore in Mamelodi Sundowns’ march to lifting the 2016 Caf Champions League hangs in the office that Weah will occupy after the inauguration on January 22.

Laffor presented that jersey to outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on January 12 last year, along with the winner’s medal that gave him the honour of being the first Liberian to win the Champions League.

Laffor might be the poster-boy of Liberian football at the moment, but the great “King George”, soon to be President Weah, is the gold frame that poster would be nothing without. Weah was the first - and remains the only African - to win Fifa’s World Footballer of the Year and the Ballon d’Or.

“It means a lot for me to have my jersey hang in the presidential office,” Laffor said.

“Being the first Liberian to win the Champions League is something I will always cherish and it’s an achievement that my children and their children will be proud of.

“The idea is to have the jersey in a museum to inspire future Liberian stars just like George inspired me to reach for the stars.

“There are two things that George always preached to me: humility and leaving a legacy. I remember the first time I met him. It was in 2005 and I was going to France.

“We met in Ghana and he was very respectful towards me. I was moved because I was a nobody back then and he was the biggest name in African football; everyone in Liberia knows about George Weah yet he was very humble.

“He taught me to always respect my teammates because you’re nothing without them. The respect and humility he showed me then are things that I will never forget.”

Weah’s journey to be Liberia’s President started in 2005. He and the Congress for Democratic Change he formed lost in the run-off to Johnson Sirleaf, who became the first African woman to be a Head of State.

Weah’s downfall during that campaign was his political inexperience, which was magnified by him competing against a Harvard-educated economist.

That loss and criticism spurred Weah on, showing the driven and ferocious nature that made him a force that was almost impossible to stop in his playing days.

He Matriculated in 2006 and in 2011 obtained a bachelor’s degree in business management from DeVry University in the US. He went on to get a masters in public administration two years later and in 2014 was elected into the Liberian Senate.

It’s a remarkable story that would beat any footballer’s in talks of what they did after they hung up their boots.

Laffor has also started planning for life after football but the 32-year-old is unlikely to take the same route as the man he is proud to call his friend.

“That life isn’t for me,” Laffor said followed by a loud laugh.

“But if I retire tomorrow I can continue with the lifestyle I currently live by because I have planned for that. I have a number of businesses in Liberia in various sectors that my father manages for me. I am sorted.”

Sunday Independent

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