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Weah, George (1966- )

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George Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah, the newly elected president of Liberia, was born in the slums of Monrovia, Liberia on October 1, 1966.  During his professional sports career he was considered one of the best soccer players on the African continent.  For much of his youth, Weah was raised by his grandmother, Emma Klonjlaleh Brown, who provided for him while allowing him to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional soccer player.

Weah played for Monrovia teams including the Young Survivors, Bongrange Company, Mighty Barolle, and Invincible Eleven before leaving Africa for Europe.  In 1987, at the age of 21, Weah signed for the French Ligue 1 giants, AS Monaco.  Throughout his career at the club Weah scored 55 goals in 155 appearances from 1987 to 1992.  From Monaco he played on a series of other European teams including Paris St. Germain (1992-1995), AC Milan (1995-1999), Chelsea (1999-2000), Manchester City (2001) and Olympic Marseille (2001-2002).  Over his 15-year career in Europe, Weah amassed an astonishing 172 goals

In 1989, 1994 and 1995, Weah was selected as the African Player of the Year.  Also in 1995, he would be awarded the European Play of the Year and World Player of the year honors.  This was the only time all three awards have been won by an African competitor.  Arguably Weah was the best professional soccer player in the world in 1995.  Weah would later be voted the African Player of the Century.  Brazilian soccer player Pelé won the South American Player of the Century award and Johan Cruijff was name as the European Player of the Century.

After retiring from professional soccer in 2003, Weah returned to Liberia and became involved in politics.  In 2005 at the age of 39 he ran for president of Liberia but lost to Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.  Despite the defeat, Weah continues to promote humanitarian projects in Liberia.   He also continues his involvement with soccer.  He has helped fund the Liberian National soccer team in their attempt to reach their first ever World Cup.  With Weah’s support, they hope to compete in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

In 2017 Weah, now aged 51, ran again for President and this time won, defeating Joseph Boakai, the Liberian Vice President. Weah won 61.5% of the votes compared to Boakai’s 38.5% percent of the votes.  Much of Weah’s support came from Liberian youth along with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s decision to not endorse Boakai.  In his inaugural address on January 22, 2018, Weah promised to the Liberian people to fight corruption, pay civil servants, and show the private sector that Liberia is open for business.

Henry Winter, “On The Spot: George Weah,” London Daily Telegraph, January 22, 2000; Michael Lewis, “Guiding light: player, coach, and financier, George Weah means everything to Liberian soccer--and Liberia means everything to Weah,” Soccer Digest Magazine, January 2002. “George Weah,” New York Times,; “George Weah,” BBC News,

Mohn, Stephen
University of Washington, Seattle

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