LONDON – Arsene Wenger has compared the life of George Weah to a film script following his former player’s election as president of Liberia.
Weah, who played for Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan during a glittering career, last week secured a stunning run-off victory in the West African country’s first democratic transfer of power in decades.
Idolised in Liberia as “Mister George”, Weah, 51, is to be sworn in on January 22, replacing Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who in 2006 took the helm of the nation first founded for freed US slaves.
Arsenal boss Wenger has been invited to Weah’s inauguration, but expects to be too busy to attend – the date falls two days before the second leg of Arsenal’s League Cup semi-final against Chelsea.
Wenger signed Weah in 1988 when he was manager of Monaco, guiding his career for the next four years, and views the 1995 Fifa world player of the year as a shining example to the rest of the game.
“I have been invited by George to come to the day where he will be president. I believe I will be busy. Maybe if I’m suspended, I’ll have time to go,” Wenger joked.
Although he was handed a three-game touchline ban on Friday for his conduct after Arsenal’s draw at West Brom, Wenger will be back pitch-side by mid-January.
“What’s important is when you look at his life, and I think the life of this guy is a real film, it’s unbelievable. You can make a fantastic film.
“I remember when I saw him for the first time in Monaco, coming in a bit lost, not knowing anybody, not being rated by anybody as a player and after, in 1995, becoming the best player in the world.
“Now he’s president of his country – it’s an unbelievable story. But it’s down to the fact that one thing that was common in George’s attitude is being strong mentally, absolutely unbelievably convinced that he has a mission.”
Wenger said Weah, who entered politics in 2002, suffered for his country and showed care for other people.
“I didn’t think at that point that he would become president of his country, but today, when I look back, I must say I’ve seen him crying when war was on in Liberia.
“It’s a happy story, and I wish that he has a happy presidency. I would like to say this guy is an example for everybody who plays football today, for all the players.”