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Remembering George Weah’s early football days

Deutsche Welle | Cameroon was Weah’s stepping stone on his way to becoming a top football player in Europe. Many of his former team mates have fond memories of Liberia’s president-elect. DW’s Moki Kindzeka spoke with some of them

Former Cameroonian national coach Jean Paul Akono still vividly remembers the day George Weah’s extraordinary talent as a football player was discovered by his fellow countrymen.

“It was during a match that the Tonnerre Kalara football club of Yaounde played in Liberia that my late predecessor and friend Bendongo Paul Gaston spotted George Weah,” Akono told DW.

“His prowess helped his Liberian side defeat Tonnerre.”

During the match, Weah scored two goals for his Liberian club Invincible Eleven. After the game, Tonnerre’s president Pierre Semengue called for negotiations with Weah to get him to join his team.

Cameroon as a stepping stone on the way to Europe’s top clubs

By then, Weah could already look back at a successful football career in his native Liberia. He had played for the country’s two top clubs: Mighty Barolle and Invincible Eleven. In 1987, Weah was the Liberian football league’s top scorer and chosen as the best player of the season.

In Cameroon, he also quickly lived up to expectations.

“When he arrived, the first match he played was against Canon. He scored two goals, Semengue remembered.

But outside the football field, life wasn’t easy for Weah. Semengue recounts that he spent several months in a one-bedroom apartment with some of his team mates.

“The house was called ‘The boy’s quarter’. Before he moved there, he was hosted by my wife, together with other players,” Semengue told DW.

Weah’s most outstanding performance in Cameroon was when he lead his team to win the 1988 Challenge Cup. Cameroon’s president Paul Biya was in the audience at the time.

‘I shouted with joy’

Weah’s talents did not go unnoticed, even outside the country. Claude Leroy, then coach of Cameroon’s national team, introduced Weah to officials from the French club, AS Monaco. After six months in Cameroon, Weah joined AS Monaco in 1988. Despite some language problems in the beginning, he quickly became the club’s top scorer.

In 1989, the readers of French football magazine “France Football” selected him as “African football player of the year.” In 1994, the magazine awarded the title again. The African football federation also chose him as African player of the year in 1995.

Dieudonne Nke played with Weah
in Cameroon and has fond memories
of the famous striker

From Monaco, Weah went on to play for some of the best clubs in Europe, including Paris Saint Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Despite his brief stint in Cameroon, many of Weah’s former team mates are still closely following his career and will be watching his inauguration.

“I shouted with joy when it was announced that he had won the presidential elections in Liberia,” former team-mate Dieudonne Nke told DW.

“It is not every day that you have a team mate that finds himself in the highest position of a country.”

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10 comments

  1. Chai ,,Biya watched this little boy played in 1988 and today they are colleagues,even when he preaches that the youths are tomorrow,s leaders.Thank God he did not take LRC nationality….he would be heading to kondengui if had presidential ambitions as a cameroonian

  2. It is such a joy to watch a young man or woman come from nowhere to some where. The world gets nicer and more accommodating with the George Weah, Barack Obama, Emmanuel Macrons, Mugufulis, and more.

    • John [email protected] being previously the countrys finance minister ( or at least in the ministery ) is coming from nowhere? Your pretty much already in the power incubator having that job …

      • Maybe if Dinga said; Weah was not born with a golden spoon in the mouth; you might understand

  3. The coded message from these feel good stories is that citizens of La Republique are yearning for something good in their lives, but we all know what the crab syndrome has done to the foundation of the society. Mills and Tataw tore each other apart, Song and Eto’o did same. JP Akono had to bend over to receive his money, players of all generations have been abandoned in some airport or hotel somewhere. Any doubt why everyone is now falling over Weah? Even war-torn Liberia has become a model to “ Africa in miniature “, the haven of peace! See how Prince Eyango was chased away ! Footballers are not good enough to manage football, lawyers are!

    • And how are things ever going to change one day when millions like you keep on preaching that it’s cos of LRC. As if there is a tribe out there that is innocent in our collective fiasco.

      Hypocrite…

      • Zam Zam – When this site was still budding and you used to debate a lot on here; I used to think highly of you. But I now understand you are just a pretender. you are in no position to point fingers.
        These people could not stand the injustice of France implemented through Biya’s govt; when they also realized they could not win through ballots as elections are a waste of time and that the constitution is not regarded, they chose to walk away just as they came into the union… you turned around and blamed them. To me they show courage standing and dying for believing we should be free of injustice. But a coward like you (and a few others here)..
        I am no proponent of division and wish Cameroon excels just as it is; but I won’t blame the Anglos for walking away. You are a pretender Zam-Zam

  4. When dictatorial elections in a country are run by appointees of the dictator then the dictator remains in power until death.
    Liberia, Sierra Leone, Etc have survived way to run an election in their war torn and poor nations.
    We the pseudo peaceful economic giant can’t carry out a fair election.
    Who is fooling who?
    If the USA had their election committee controlled by Trump and Republicans then Trump will be president for life.
    Very easy, in Africa we plant beans and pretend we want to harvest corn. How?
    President Weah please don’t change the constitution to stay in power for life, do your part and let others carry the baton.
    The world is dynamic, change is essential for growth.

  5. French Niggers and their presidential puppet are good at praising the good old days while destroying their presence in crumbling structures left behind by the French masters. Congrats Weah! Pa Paul has already set modalities for winning this year’s election meaning he will be in power until he clocks 42 years in office. The LRC where youths are the future.

    Somewhere else within his grip called Kwakwa, a 97 year old Grand Ma was burnt to carbon ashes in her house and a village of 6,500 citizens chased into the woods by the military under the dictator’s authority. And this happened only a month after a DO’s order evacuated Mamfe, loot, burnt and killed scores of innocent citizens. The complicity of the UN and the silence of the LRC folks will never be forgiven. Ambaland shall rise again.

  6. Another message from George Weah’s story is this: some successful players have vision beyond hamlet, village, town or city of birth, spreading their energies and resources to embrace their entire country.
    The famous Professor Lumumba of Kenya has drawn attention such persona in Tanzania where no one talks about the tribe of the president, because from Julius Nyerere right up to today’s John Magufuli, there is a perceptible effort to distance self from tribal trappings.