By Akinwale Kasali
The Liberian President, and former World Footballer of the Year (1995), George Oppong Weah, has heaped praises on the Coach Gernot Rohr tutored team, after humbling the Lone Stars of Liberia 2-1.
President Weah, who featured in the 2-1 loss to the Super Eagles, was anticipating his 52nd birthday few weeks short, and Liberia had arranged the friendly to retire the number 14 jersey made famous by Weah.
However, 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.
Media reports said Weah, who led the attack and showed glimpses of the class that made him a household name around the world.
He received a standing ovation from fans when he was substituted on 79 minutes.
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.
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.
He also played for English sides Manchester City and Chelsea.
Weah was 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.
The Director of Communications, Nigeria Football Federation, Ademola Olajire, said on Wednesday in Lagos that the football icon spoke after the Tuesday night’s exhibition match between the Lone Star and Super Eagles at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Monrovia.
“As a young, upcoming footballer, I was always fascinated by Nigeria’s football stars. I looked up to the likes of Stephen Keshi, Rashidi Yekini, Friday Ekpo and others.
“I believed that the African footballer can also get to the very top. I believe that in Africa, somewhere, there is another Ballon D’Or winner.
“We have to find him, expose him to the world and give him the opportunity to actualise his dream,” a statement by Olajire quoted Weah, African, European and World Footballer of the Year in 1995 as saying.
Weah commended the Federal Government, Nigeria Football Federation and the Super Eagles for the honour done to him on the occasion which was to celebrate his contributions to Liberian football.
He revealed that as a people, Liberians look up to Nigeria’s pedigree in the round leather game and will work hard to get there.