Weah victory will motivate ex-stars — Taribo West

Former  Super Eagles  defender, Taribo West, has said  George Weah’s victory will encourage  ex-football stars   to  seek  political posts in their countries.
Weah  on Thursday defeated vice-president Joseph Boakai to win Liberia’s presidential election runoff with 61.5% of the vote.

The Monrovia-born former AC Milan superstar will succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Liberia’s 25th president next month, in what will be the country’s first democratic transition since 1944.

The 1995 World  Player of the Year emerged victorious after winning  12 of  Liberia’s  15 counties.

Taribo, who played against the 51-year-old in  the Italian Serie A and French Ligue 1, told our correspondent on the telephone  that Weah’s  victory did not come to him as a surprise.

“I knew George Weah  is  a child of destiny and it was only a matter of time before he went for something political. I was not surprised that  he has been voted Liberia president,” the former AC and Inter Milan  star, who is one of Weah’s closest friends,  said.

“He was  born with great leadership qualities and he exhibited them many times. When he was  playing for Paris Saint-Germain (1992-1995), he would invite all African footballers  in Europe to his home in France and he would pay for their flights and other costs.

“While he was in Italy (playing for AC Milan), he did the same thing. He helped to solve the problems of many African players. He would call each person and ask about their challenges and solved  them  as much as he could. His house was home for  many African  players who just came into Europe back then.

“I visited him many  times while he was in Italy and I knew that apart from being a good footballer, he was someone worthy of emulation by the younger generation of footballers.”

Former Auxerre  versatile player  Taribo, who  represented Nigeria at the  1998 and 2002 World Cups,  added, “His victory is a good sign that ex-footballers and other former sportsmen and sportswomen can do well in other areas  apart from football or sports.

“It is also a motivation  for  other ex-internationals around the world that they can achieve whatever they set their minds on. For instance, I was also into politics at a point before I left for the Lord’s vineyard. Also, Chilean  football legend, Ivan Zamorano, who we played together at Inter, also contested  an election in Chile but he lost.

“Ex-internationals in Africa should wake up and realise that we also have a role to play in the development of our countries and we can achieve success if we venture into politics.”

After running unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2005, when he was defeated by  Sirleaf, Weah said  he had “gained experience”, according to AFP.

Another fruitless run for the vice-presidency on the ticket of presidential candidate Winston Tubman in 2011 brought him to further prominence among the nation’s voters, many of who say this time it is “Weah’s turn”.

Weah put education, job creation and infrastructure at the centre of his platform – in line with Boakai – and won 38.4 percent of votes in the first round election on October 10, while Boakai came second with 28.8 per cent.

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