Former soccer star George Weah has defeated Vice President Joseph Boakai to win Liberia’s presidential run-off election with 61.5 per cent of the vote based on 98.1 per cent of ballots cast.
Weah will succeed incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf next month in what will be Liberia’s first democratic transition since 1944.
Supporters of the 51-year-old paraded through the streets of the capital Monrovia and honked car horns to celebrate the news.
Liberia President elect George Weah, who has won Liberia’s presidential run-off, follows several celebrities who have achieved the top job in their countries.
However, only one sportsman — Hungary’s double Olympic fencing champion Pal Schmitt — has previously become president.
Legend George Oppong Weah early life and football
George Weah was born on October 1, 1966, in the Clara Town slum of Monrovia, Liberia, where he was said to have grown up in poverty.
A member of the Kru ethnic group and his parents, William Weah and Anna Quayeweah, were split up at his tender age. He was raised largely by his paternal grandmother, and attended middle school at Muslim Congress and high school at Wells Hairston High School, where reportedly dropped out in his final year.
As a teenager, he fell in love with soccer and began playing soccer for the Young Survivors youth club at the age of 15. He moved on to other prominent local clubs as his skills progressed, assuming starring roles for Mighty Barrolle and Invincible Eleven.
At 22, Weah’s promising football career caught the attention of Claude Le Roy, Cameroon national team coach, who helped in his move to AS Monaco under Arsène Wenger. A later move to Paris Saint-Germain brought more acclaim for Weah, helping his club win the French Cup in 1993 and the Ligue 1 title in 1994. He also finished as the Champions League’s leading scorer during the 1994-95 season.
His achievement that season earned him an unprecedented achievement – emerging as the African and European World Player of the Year and also winning the highly coveted
Weah then moved to AC Milan for the 1995-96 season and helped the club to win the Serie A title that season and in 1999.
He later fell out of favour with AC Milan after he got a six-match ban for breaking the nose of Jorge Costa, a Portuguese defender, and was subsequently loaned to Chelsea in January 2000. The move revitalized the Liberian striker, who scored in his debut and became a key figure in Chelsea’s march to the FA Cup.
He spent 2000-01 with Manchester City and Marseille, and then played two seasons with Al-Jazira before retiring in August 2003.
Weah was named African Player of the Year in 1989 and 1994 (making it three times), and was voted the African Player of the 20th century by the continent’s journalists in 1996.
He is widely regarded as the best-ever African footballer, with Brazilian legend Pelé naming him among the 125 greatest-ever players in 2004 on the occasion of FIFA’s 100th anniversary.
Professional Career Statistics
|PSG||1992 – 1995||138||55|
|AC Milan||1995 – 1999||147||58|
|Chelsea||1999 – 2000||15||5|
- African Footballer of the Year: 1989, 1994, 1995
- FIFA XI: 1991, 1996 (Reserve), 1997, 1998
- French Division 1 Foreign Player of the Year: 1990–91
- UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 1994–95
- BBC African Footballer of the Year: 1995
- Onze d’Or: 1995
- Ballon d’Or: 1995
- FIFA World Player of the Year: 1995
- ESM Team of the Year: 1995–96
- Onze d’Argent: 1996
- FIFA Fair Play Award: 1996
- FIFA World Player of the Year – Silver award: 1996
- IFFHS African Player of the Century: 1996
The 1995 World Player of the Year sort the country’s highest office for the second time.
On the first occasion, he was beaten to the post by the first and – still – only female Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Weah went from winning the first-round vote to losing in the run-off to Johnson Sirleaf. Weah ran for vice-president in 2011 and went on to easily win a seat at the senate in 2014 – beating the son of President Sirleaf, Robert, by clinching 78 per cent of the votes in Montserrado County, which holds the country’s capital, Monrovia.
Today, as well as being a member of the Liberian Parliament and senator of the country’s biggest county, Weah is also the serving Chair of the Committee on Youth and Sports, and a member of the regional ECOWAS Parliament.
2017 Liberia elections
Mr Weah, 51, won the first round of the presidential election in October with 38.4% of the vote, compared with the 28.8% won by second-placed Mr Boakai, 73. The failure of any candidate to secure an outright majority forced the run-off.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) said on Thursday that with 98.1% of the run-off vote counted, Mr Weah had won 61.5% of the vote while Mr Boakai was far behind with 38.5%.
Legal challenges delayed the vote to replace Ms Sirleaf, and turnout was low – put at 56% by election officials.
But election observers have praised the conduct of the poll.
More than two million people were eligible to cast their ballots in the nation of 4.6 million people.