Home / Observatory / Politics / Video: Ex European Footballer, George Weah, Elected As Liberia's President


Liberia's next president, George Weah, has an interesting history – especially considering he was a former Chelsea, Manchester City and AC Milan striker.

Weah, 51, spent 18 years as a professional footballer, with one of his many achievements being the first non-European player to win the Ballon d'Or way back in 1995.

He entered politics and has been serving as a senator in Liberia's parliament since his retirement from soccer in 2003.

His victory was announced by Liberia's National Elections Commission on Thursday, saying that – with 98.1% of ballots counted – Weah had won 61.5% of the vote.

He will succeed Africa's first elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who defeated Weah back in 2005 – this was shortly after the end of a brutal civil war.

Who was Weah the footballer?
During the 1990s, Weah was among the best strikers in world football. Although he was capable of scoring all sorts of goals, his most famous moment happened while playing against Verona for AC Milan in 1996. After collecting the ball in his own penalty area, he dribbled past almost all of the opposition to score an incredibly memorable solo effort.

Arsene Wenger brought him to Monaco in 1988 where Weah scored 47 league goals in four years before moving to Paris St-Germain. There he won the league title in 1994 and was the top scorer in the Champions League a year later – beating out Jari Litmanen, Romario and Hristo Stoichkov – before moving to Milan in 1995.

Weah won Serie A in his first season and again in 1999 with Milan alongside Roberto Baggio. Eventually, he fell out of favour at Milan and had short spells at both Chelsea and Manchester City in England's Premier League. He scored just four goals in England's top flight, scoring only once in the league for Manchester City before leaving just two months after signing for £750,000. Soon he returned to France but not before adding the FA Cup to his trophy collection with the Blues.

How Weah made Ballon d'Or history
Only European players were eligible to win the Ballon d'Or prior to 1995 but, that year, the rules changed to allow eligibility for all players who play for European clubs. He remains the only African player to win the award.
Of the 21 awards given since Weah's win, 11 have gone to Europeans – with six going to AC Milan, the team with the most winners. At an international level, Weah was unable to help Liberia reach a World Cup but he did play in two Cup of Nations, scoring against Mali in 2002.

What was it like to play with Weah?
Former Netherlands defender Mario Melchiot played with Weah at Chelsea:
"He was a great player, but also – what a person. After he came to Chelsea, he walked into the dressing room and asked me: Can I sit next to you?

"Can you imagine? I said: 'Dude, you can sit wherever you want'.

"We used to call him 'Mr Weah' because he was a top man. His personality and the game, together – that made him who he is today.

"Now, having been elected president, he has got what he has been fighting for for so long."

Ex-Bermuda striker Shaun Goater was at Manchester City when Weah joined in 2000.

"Good luck to him, because he was brilliant. He came in and was just so humble. This was one of the world's best players – we were just thinking: 'My...'

"When he was leaving, I was out doing extra training and I said: 'George have you got any spare boots?' You just wanted to have something of his. But in the dressing room everything was cleaned out. They took the lot!"

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