Liberia: Debbah to Contest by-Election

Former national coach of the Lone Star and the nation’s most celebrated, James Salinsa Debbah, announces his interest to vie in the pending by-election for Montserrado County Electoral District #9.

The district seat was rendered vacant following the demise of ruling Coalition for Democratic Change Lawmaker, Munah Pelham Youngblood.

But the nation's most celebrated soccer star says he has paused his political ambition, pending burial of the fallen female lawmaker, who died after a protracted illness. The late Rep. Youngblood died while on medical leave in Accra, Ghana.

According to James, his desire to enter politics followed series of consultations with family members, friends and fans, who believe it's time for him to serve his country at another level, this time, in the Liberian Legislature.

He was born and raised in Fiamah community, District#9, before subsequently traveling to Cameroon and Europe to further his football career.

He later returned to Liberia and was appointed national coach of the Lone Star, winning few matches both at home and abroad before retiring.

It is not clear whether he will contest on a political party ticket or as independent candidate. But news coming says he is in consultation with the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change of President George Manneh Weah for a possible move to the CDC.

Debbah campaigned vigorously twice against the presidential bid of now President George Weah both in 2005 and 2011, respecting arguing that his good friend from soccer pitch, lacked the experience then. He disclosed on a live talk show hosted on OK FM recently that President Weah is his cousin.

Debbah began his professional football career with national club, Mighty Barrolle in 1984, but left Liberia in 1989 for Union Douala of Cameroon. In 1991, Debbah moved to Ligue 1 squad AS Monaco of France where he played in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup finals, before subsequently getting to Olympique Lyonnais.

In 1995, he returned to Ligue 1, specifically, OGC Nice, where he played until 1997. In that year, Debbah moved to Belgian League side Anderlecht before coming back to Ligue 1 for one season with Paris Saint-Germain in 1998.

After leaving Paris Saint-Germain, he went to Turkcell Super League side Ankaragücü for the 1998 and 1999 seasons and then onto Greek side Iraklis. He then switched to Al-Jazeera Club in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in 2001 and then to Muharraq Club in Muharraq, Bahrain, in 2003. In 2008, four years after leaving Muharraq Club, he moved to Indonesia Super League with PKT Bontang for one season.

Debbah was part of both the 1996 and 2002 Lone Star squads for the African Cup of Nations. During a July 2004 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Togo in Monrovia in which he served as captain, he refused to be substituted in the 53rd minute, instead waiting until the 68th minute to leave the pitch. The match resulted in a 0-0 draw, causing the national team to leave the stadium under protection of an armored personnel carrier.

He made a final appearance for the national team in September 2018, at the age of 48, making him the third oldest international player on record.

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