It is a dream come true for George Tawlon Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah after he was voted as Liberia’s 25th head of state.
By SportBrief Reporter
Weah, 51, is a former national team football star and Liberian senator who overcame 73 year old Joseph Boakai who has been the country’s vice president for the last 12 years under the presidency of Sir Johnson Sirleaf.
The victory for the former AC Milan, Manaco and PSG star came through a second round vote on boxing day.
The former World Footballer of the Year thus becomes the first famous player in the world to clinch the high office of a country after retiring from the game.
Weah had won the first round of voting but did not secure the 50 percent needed to win outright, won the runoff after soundly beating Boakai.
Shortly after after casting his vote, Weah hailed the tranquil electoral process as “peaceful and good” according to BBC.
After being declared, Weah tweeted on his official handle;
“It is with deep emotion that I want to thank you, the Liberian people, for honoring me with your vote today.”
Goodluck Jonathan, the former Nigerian president, who was an observer at the election, told the BBC he was certain it would be free and fair despite “some challenges”.
More than two million people were eligible to cast their ballots in the nation of 4.6 million people, founded by freed US slaves in the 19th Century.
The Liberian picked up a cabinet-full of accolades, winning both Fifa World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or in 1995.
But he never forgot his home country, by then tangled in a civil war which would claim about 250,000 lives.
He often paid out of his own pocket for the cash-strapped national football team to travel to matches abroad. A passionate musician, he also joined up with fellow African stars to produce a song to discourage wars in Africa.
He would turn to music again years later, in 2014, when he and a popular Ghanaian musician would produce a song to create awareness about Ebola.
These small acts are still remembered today.
“The heart George has for Liberia is unbelievable,” former teammate Thomas Kojo told Reuters in October. “He made sure the national team was always trying to bring [home]some pride.”