George Weah is an African Legend; a football Legend, nobody can take that honor from.
He was glorious in his playing days, an inspiration to young Africans who watched the Liberian in the colors of AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain or even in his twilight at Chelsea.
His achievements as a footballer will forever be etched in the annals of footballing history, but the 51-year-old’s involvement in the international friendly between the Lone Stars and Super Eagles of Nigeria was a ridicule of the game; a farce.
The occasion was planned to be in his honor, since becoming President of the West African nation and also the rare act of retiring the jersey number Liberia’s biggest – ever – football figure don in his best days.
However, in the most awkward yet symptomatic way, typical of glory hunters, he couldn’t resist the temptation of stepping out on the pitch, getting his name on the starting XI and actually playing as captain of the Lone Stars for 79 minutes.
Prior the game, there was no evidence anybody questioned his well-being; his physical state, after all he still finds time, from a busy schedule as a statesman, to knock the ball around with his citizens on weekends, so what prompted this?
This was an international – professional – match, something he knows to much about and thus should have, respectfully, sat back and enjoyed the action – like a Roman Emperor would in the gladiators’ arena.
The George Weah comeback!
At 51 he played for Liberia v Nigeria in a special friendly/exhibition match to retire his number 14 shirt.
I’d like to think that Nigeria Captain John Ogu is thinking: “…please tell me he hasn’t got Maldini, Baresi or Baggio standing behind him.” pic.twitter.com/VpO0qMMJVV
— John Bennett (@JohnBennettBBC) September 12, 2018
Today, Weah is in the business of politics, the often self-gratifying art, and his actions on Tuesday inside the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium, albeit not the first time he had used political office for personal satisfaction, was symbolic of how Tyrants are born.
Last month Weah honored former Arsenal Manager, also his former Coach at AS Monaco, in a well publicized ceremony.
The Frenchman was conferred with Liberia’s highest civilian award for what the Liberia Information Minister Euguene Nagbe calmed was in appreciation for the Frenchman’s contribution to African football.
Claude Le Roy, who recommended Weah to Wenger, during the player’s formative years, was also conferred with the Country’s highest honor.
The populace in Liberia might have been silent [or silenced] over the matter, but around the world eyebrows were raised.
— Oladipo Omogoriola R-W #Politics of Equity🇳🇬 (@TrueNaijaboi) August 21, 2018
For argument purposes Weah’s actions lacked any moral justification, and on the standpoint of ethics it was equally jaundiced.
As far as the friendly was concerned, he reduced what would have otherwise been another meaningful competitive game to a farce.
George Weah playing for Liberia is a real joke and disrespectful of the Super Eagles. If he wants to have some fun, he can invite his fellow ex-players to play an exhibition game. This was supposed to be a serious match, not a kick about.
— Babanla (@biolakazeem) September 11, 2018
The last time Liberia and Nigeria played, at senior level, was in 2001 during the FIFA 2002 World Cup qualifier.
Over two legs, Weah, then captain of the Lone Stars came close, but failed to help his team secure a World Cup ticket.
Perhaps, Tuesday was supposed to be a revenge mission, but it turned out to be another disappointment and particularly for the aspiring stars in the team, their shine was dimmed by the super imposed figure of an ex-football star, Politician and President of the republic, who couldn’t starve off the urge to sit back and cheer.
George Weah, cannot, possibly feel any remorse for what transpired in Tuesday’s game, neither will the Nigeria Football Federation, who knew aforehand about the intentions of the Liberian President – and his former teammate James Debbah, now 41 – to play, but still allowed Super Eagles gaffer, Gernot Rohr, list a near A-list squad.
Two Nigerians scored their first international goals – Henry Onyekuru and Simeon Nwankwo – and a third – John Ogu – was named captain for the first time – a tremendous occasion for the trio – but sadly, downgraded to the ridiculousness of watching them compete against a 51-year-old retired football turned Politician.