Liberia President Springs Surprises To Play For National Team At 51- Then Twitter Melts Down
Liberia president and former World Footballer of the Year George Weah made a surprise return to international competition in a friendly against Nigeria just a few weeks short of his 52nd birthday.
Liberia had arranged the friendly to retire the number 14 jersey made famous by Weah but fans were in for a shock when, 16 years after his last international appearance, the striker led the national team onto the pitch wearing it instead.
Weah, who led the attack and showed glimpses of the class that made him a household name around the world, received a standing ovation from fans when he was substituted on 79 minutes.
Weah enjoyed a career in Europe spanning nearly a decade and a half that saw him play for Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille in France, AC Milan in Italy and English sides Manchester City and Chelsea.
As well as being named the 1995 World Footballer of the Year, he also won the Ballon d’Or in the same year and remains the only African to win either award.
Weah’s popularity from his playing career saw him secure a landslide run-off win last December in Liberia’s presidential elections.
Goals from Henry Onyekuru and Simeon Nwankwo helped Nigeria to a 2-0 lead before the hosts pulled one back through a Kpah Sherman penalty late in the game.
Meanwhile, Twitter has ripped into the friendly game between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Liberia, blasting the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and Weah who played 79 minutes in the match.
Twitter Nigeria wasn’t pleased with the disrespect for the Super Eagles players and blasted the NFF and Weah.
“George Weah is a major disappointment. For someone as exposed,experienced and educated, his constant appropriation of Liberia’s platforms to fulfill his personal objectives is a disgrace. He had no business giving Wenger that award & had no business playing tonight,” outspoken Twitter personality Biola Kazeem wrote.
“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,” he further said.
”George Weah honored Arsene Wenger with a Liberian NATIONAL award for what Arsene Wenger did for George Weah (Not Liberial) George Weah features for Liberia in a FIFA organized friendly match Vs Nigeria. If they call Africa a shit hole, y’all will flare up and scream racism,” Twitter user @Kelvin_Odanz wrote.
“Liberia are fielding George Weah vs Nigeria. A whole president with a potbelly. In a legit, FIFA recognised match,” @KahunaKome said.
“Wait, George Weah is on the pitch? Yeah, I’m done. After the day I’ve had, sleep is a far more prudent use of my time,” football writer Solace Chukwu said on Twitter.
“Wait… George Weah, President of Liberia, who retired from International football years ago is actually playing against Nigeria in a FIFA organised friendly match? Thought the match was meant to be in honour of him and not to bring him out of retirement,” a Twitter user with the handle @iSlimfit wrote.
“So 51 year-old George Weah did play for Liberia – for 79 minutes (!) – against Nigeria tonight in a friendly. Apparently the game “was arranged in honour of the country’s president” and to retire his number 14 shirt. Still seems pretty crazy. It was a strong Nigeria team.,” BBC journalist John Benneth said.
“Lmao, George Weah is playing against Nigeria. African leaders & comedy,” another user “@That_IjebuBadoo wrote.