Liberia: Weah Announces ‘Second Retirement’ from Football
Monrovia – Liberian President George Manneh Weah has announced his retirement from football in Liberia after winning the Intra Governmental League organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Report by Christopher C. Walker, [email protected]
This retirement by the President is actually quitting organized football activities on the local scene.
President Weah, who is a former World and African Footballer of the Year, said the 2018 Intra Governmental league was his last organized tournament he will play in as President.
The former AC Milian, PSG, AS Monaco and Chelsea striker on Thursday, August 2, helped the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs defeat the Ministry of Youth and Sports 4-0 in a match the Liberian leader provided three assists and scored his trademark header with a minute to the end of the game.
Weah, after receiving his Most Valuable Player and highest goal scorer awards, said “This is my last tournament; I will not play any organized tournament again. The number 14 jersey will be officially retired.”
The African soccer legend scored eight goals in the tournament and provided seven assists throughout the tournament.
His statement means he will not play for Alpha Oldtimers in the Liberian Oldtimers National Association League. He will, however, continue his normal Saturday morning practice session at the Barclay Training Center.
The President’s decision to retire from all organized tournaments is as the result of complains that every team he plays for in any tournament, is always given extra favor because of his presence.
In the recently held Intra Government Tournament, the Ministry of State did not lose a game in the tournament with President Weah on the pitch.
After 18 years of professional football, Weah retired from the game at age 37 in France.
It is believed that a special ceremony to finally do his retirement from all organized football tournaments will be held in September, 2018.
The retirement is set for September 11, 2018, and is reported to be organized by Africa for Glory Agenda, in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Organizers said a special international friendly match will be played between Liberia and Nigeria, to commemorate the retirement of the Liberian leader.
Several soccer stars are expected to grace the event, including Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Austine Jayjay Okocha, Thierry Henry, Terrible West, Nwankwo Kanu among others.
A huge batch of his international colleagues and coaches that impacted his career will also arrive in Monrovia for the ceremony including former Arsenal and AS Monaco boss, Arsène Wenger.
Speaking to FrontPage Africa, former Sports Writers Association president Henry Flomo said the retirement of President Weah is a huge blow to the football.
Flomo, who is a current executive committee member of the Liberia Football Association (LFA), said the former FIFA World Player of the Year’s presence on the pitch is a lesson to the younger generation.
“I feel President Weah still needs to play in these competitions to teach our young players how to play. His presence also motivates people to love the game.”
“I think President Weah’s team was not favored in the entire tournament. We at the National Elections Commission (NEC) participated in the league and saw to assistance given the Ministry of State. They played well to capture the championship,” Flomo said.
He wants President Weah to reconsider his decision to play in the Intra Government League because other top government officials are motivated to play in the tournament, too.
After playing in the Liberian domestic league at the beginning of his successful career and winning several national honours (including the Liberian Premier League and the Liberian Cup), Weah’s talent was discovered by the Cameroon national team coach, Claude Le Roy, who relayed the news to Arsène Wenger. Weah moved to Europe in 1988, for just £12,000, when he was signed by Wenger – the manager of Monaco at the time – who flew to Africa himself prior to the signing, and whom Weah credits as an important influence on his career. During his time with Monaco, Weah won the African Footballer of the Year for the first time in 1989; this was his first major award and he took it back home for the entire country to celebrate. Weah also won the Coupe de France in 1991, and he helped Monaco reach the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1992, scoring four goals in nine cup appearances.