Arsene Wenger has been honoured with Liberia’s highest honour by his former player, now Liberian President George Weah in a ceremony held on Friday in the state capital Monrovia.
President George Weah handing over the ‘Knight Grand Commander of the Humane Order of African Redemption ‘ award to his former coach Arsene Wenger, praised the French man for his contribution to African football and football in general. He said:
“You [Arsene Wenger] proved yourself as a teacher when you revolutionized forever the approach of scouting young talents all over the planet, particularly through Africa”
Arsene Wenger found the now President George Weah playing in the local league for Cameroon’s Tonnerre Yaounde and brought him to French side Monaco in 1988.
The move paved the way for the striker at some of Europe’s top clubs, including AC Milan, Paris St Germain, and Chelsea.
In 1995 Weah was named World Footballer of the Year and won the Ballon d’Or, still the only African to win either award.
The award was given to Arsene Wenger ‘Knight Grand High Commander of the Humane Order of African Redemption’ it is said to be the highest ranked honour in Liberia, and it was given by the President for personal reasons which he highlighted during the presentation.
The other coach that was also honoured aside Arsene Wenger, was coach Claude Le Roy, who first told Wenger about Weah’s talent. He was also honoured with the highest honour of the land on Friday in Monrovia.
According to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), thousands of spectators clapped and cheered as Arsene Wenger received his medal in a hall at the national stadium adorned with the national red, white and blue.
Thousands more listened to the ceremony on the radio in the stadium, once a shelter for people displaced by a civil war that ended fifteen years ago.
Weah’s footballing successes helped launch his political career back home.
His unlikely rise, from kicking a ball on the dusty streets of a Monrovia slum to world fame, won him support in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Development in the West African country has been hobbled by the 14-year civil war that ended in 2003 and an Ebola outbreak which killed thousands from 2013-16.
He succeeded Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as president after a landslide election victory in December last year.
“I think Arsene Wenger deserves it. If he had not spotted ambassador Weah in those days, he would not have reached this level,” said university student Cynthia Kollie.
Some took issue with the awards, saying the president’s choice was based on personal ties rather than on what the recipients did for the country.
“President Weah is bestowing our nation’s highest honour on his two former football coaches who have made no direct impact or contributed to Liberia’s collective interest,” said Martin Kolle, a student.
Some of Arsene Wenger’s awards include:
Order of British Empire (OBE)
-LMA Manager of the Year x2
-BBC Sports Personality of the Year
-Ligue 1 title,
-Coupe de France -Emperor’s Cup
-J-League Super Cup.
-French Manager of the Year
-17 trophies with Arsenal