George Weah, celebrated as the best African soccer player of the 20th century, is scoring a lot more for than goals for his country.
Marco Visscher | September 2004 issue
In an era when top-ranking soccer players want to be paid to play for their national teams in World Cup competition, George Weah is a refreshing exception. He has donated millions of dollars to the Lone Stars, the national team of Liberia, a country that for years has been ripped apart by bloody civil wars. But Weah covers more than the cost of jerseys, airline tickets and coaches’s salaries to keep Liberia’s soccer hopes alive, he helps organisations that restore hope in many ways.
The top striker—who helped teams like AS Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan win European championships during the 1990s –has dedicated himself to helping former child soldiers and other kids who have been traumatised by war. As a Unicef ambassador he visits schools to help these children learn new skills and choose a trade. He also works with AIDS education programmes, and heads up the Junior Professionals, a team of young talented players he helps with both schooling and soccer training.
Nelson Mandela has called him “African Pride.” Because George Weah, the only soccer player ever to be designated European, African and World soccer player of the year in a single year (1995), is much more than a legendary sportsman. To his fellow countrymen he embodies the sportsmanlike promise of a country striving towards unity.