How Arsène Wenger Shaped The Man Who Became The New Liberian President!

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By Jatinder Singh, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

Anyone who was a fan of football in the 1990's would remember the name George Weah... A man who was as good at football as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are today. Indeed Mr Weah played for some of the biggest teams in the world including AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City and was voted World Footballer of the year in 1995.

However, what many people may not know is after finishing his football career, Mr Weah felt compelled to make a difference in Liberia, his home country. As someone who was born in a poor part of the country, he represents the rags-to-riches dream that hard work and passion can represent. In a recent interview with the Guardian he said:

"When I started playing football, I never thought I would ever win the Ballon d’Or and emerge as the best player in the world. I just had a passion for the game and I worked hard. Every day. I would rather train than eat or sleep." 

As well as his work ethic, Mr Weah maintains that it was the mentoring he received from his manager Arsène Wenger at AC Monaco that helped him become the person he is today:

"He was a father figure and regarded me as his son. This was a man when racism was at its peak, who showed me love. He wanted me to be on the pitch for him every day. One day, I was quite tired of training and told him that I was having a headache. He said to me: ‘George, I know it’s tough but you need to work hard. I believe that with your talent, you can become one of the best players in the world.’ So, I listened and kept going on. Besides God, I think that without Arsène, there was no way I would have made it in Europe.”

The relationship between Arsene Wenger provides a beautiful example of the difference that feeling cared for by someone can make in a person's life. It also highlights that when people receive support and guidance in tough times, they often want to help other people in the same manner. George Weah has never forgotten the support that Arsène Wenger gave him during a very challenging period of his life and the affection he has for him is palpable. It helped him not only achieve more in his career, but it gave him the emotional reference point to strive to help others who are less fortunate on a national level. I'm sure Arsène Wenger never expected that Mr Weah would go on to become President of Liberia, which just shows us all how we never know what great things people who we have helped will go on to achieve. To read more on this story click here...

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Featured image @ Wikimedia