Monrovia — Former Arsenal manager Arséne Wenger, Wednesday, August 22nd, said he is in Liberia to visit George Weah, President of Liberia. Mr. Wenger also stated emphatically that he is unaware of any national award that might be bestowed upon him.
Mr. Wenger, who took Weah, the football player, to Europe in 1988, said his visit to this country is intended to appreciate his former player for his new role as President of Liberia.
However, it was reported early this week by the international news outlet, Reuters, that the Government of Liberia will honor the former Arsenal manager on Friday, August 24, along with Claude Le Roy, a friend of Wenger, for their roles in developing the football career of the President.
The Government of Liberia is expected to decorate the former English Premiere League coach and friend Le Roy and will induct them into the country's Order of Distinction and be given the title of Knight Grand Commander of the Humane Order of African Redemption - the highest rank possible in the country.
Reuters further stated that Wenger, who took President Weah to France to play for Monaco FC from Cameroonian club Tonnerre Yaoundé, will be honored for his contribution in developing the former World and African Player of the Year.
However, it was a tipoff from Wenger's friend Le Roy though that first brought Wenger's attention to George Weah, while he was still in Cameroon.
The news of the government honoring both Wenger and Le Roy was first reported on Monday, August 20, quoting an unnamed spokesperson of the government.
Reuters disclosed that the ceremony to honor President Weah's former coaches will be held on Friday, August 24, the day celebrated in Liberia as National Flag Day, to honor the country's national symbol.
The Humane Order of African Redemption is an order presented by the government of Liberia since the late 1800, during the reign of former President Anthony W. Gardiner.
The honor is awarded for humanitarian work in Liberia, for acts supporting and assisting the Liberian nation and to individuals, who have played a prominent role in the emancipation of African and Americans and the pursuit of equal rights.
Wenger, who stepped down his post as manager of Arsenal at the end of the 2017 Premiere League season, arrived in Liberia on Wednesday, August 22, as a guest of the President.
Speaking to journalists at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Margibi County, he said his visit to Liberia is to appreciate Weah for his "gains" made so far.
He added how happy he is to be in Africa and most especially Liberia, a country that produced the only African yet to win the FIFA World Player of the Year.
The French man arrived via Brussels Airlines late Wednesday, August 22nd afternoon to honor the invitation of his former player, who is now President of Liberia.
Wenger also used the occasion to extend appreciation to Arsenal Fan Club in Liberia, who had gathered at the airport to welcome him to their country.
"Weah is a good example for the young players. He is about whatever you believe in, you can do it," Wenger told his former team's fans.
According to him, the recognition by the fans shows that when a player is focused, that player can do great things in his career.
He also disclosed that his visit to Liberia is to see the many Liberian players he also contributed to during his managerial career.
Wenger was instrumental in helping to shape the professional football careers of George Weah, James Salinsa Debbah, Kelvin Sebwe, Christopher Wreh and Joe Nagbe.
Responding to questions of receiving, the country's highest honor from the government, Wenger said he is not aware of any award to be given to him by the Liberian government.
"Look, I am not aware of that award; I am here to visit George, because I had promised to visit him. I don't expect any honor in return," Wenger said.
"My visit is all about visiting George because I promised to come to Liberia one day and [him] being President, I came to show him that respect as my former player."
The Frenchman, who coached the President at Monaco, praised him for being a "great player." He also praised the other Liberian players whom he mentored. He feels that if the country invests in grassroots football, Liberia can produce more George Weahs.