As the debate rages on in Liberia over president George Weah’s decision to award the country’s highest honor to his former coaches Arsene Wenger and Claude LeRoy, fans in the capital Monrovia on Thursday enthusiastically welcomed the former Arsenal coach on Thursday.
Wenger, who was signed by Wenger in 1988 when he coached French side Monaco, was given a hero’s welcome by Liberians including a local Arsenal Club.
Arsenal Fans excited to meet Wenger pic.twitter.com/m2AfiaG80T
— Archie Dahnkuan (@ArchieDahnkuan) August 22, 2018
The current coach of the Togolese national team, Claude Le Roy, will also get a national honour on Friday.
He coached Cameroon in 1988 and recommended that Wenger should sign George Weah, who was playing for Cameroonian side Tonnerre Yaoundé at the time.
Weah went on to play for AC Milan, Paris St Germain and Chelsea. In 1995 he was named World Footballer of the Year and won the Ballon d’Or, still the only African to win either award.
Weah’s popularity from his footballing career saw him win a landslide run-off victory last December in Liberia’s presidential elections.
Is Wenger a personal or national hero?
Some Liberians have expressed their disappointment with the hon,our being bestowed upon Wenger, arguing that his contribution is to Weah in his individual capacity, and not deserving of a national honour.
Arsene Wenger in Liberia with a baby named after him. Amazing photo. pic.twitter.com/sZdnYGvMGK
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) August 23, 2018
Because of Mr Arsene Wenger , everyone in Liberia tonight is officially an Arsenal fan. That means money can't buy you love but been human like Mr Wenger can.. He's one of the greatest Human Being in terms of kindness and a good role model ❤
— Tunde Hassan 🇬🇧 (@TunzH) August 23, 2018
— GidiFeed (@GidiFeed) August 23, 2018
@MySoccerAfrica One good turn deserves another.
President Weah is paying Wenger back for helping him many years ago.
But I think that this is way too much for the highest award in Liberia to be given to a man who has contributed little or nothing to Liberia as a country.
— EJIM TONY (CET) (@de_ejimtony) August 23, 2018
George Weah bestowing Liberia's highest honour on Wenger is such a patronizing &self serving decision. Wenger has done nothing for Liberia to deserve it. His gratitude to Wenger should be personal. Co-opting Liberia &Liberians is an extremely cheap &exploitative move.
— Babanla (@biolakazeem) August 23, 2018
Arsene Wenger actually deserves all the love that he's getting from George Weah in Liberia.
It shows that apart from being good at what you do, you should focus on building people and being good to them.
He would never have thought that his ex player would become a president. pic.twitter.com/XWl69xSmm3
— Ibadan (@omobadan_) August 23, 2018
The government of Liberia will on August 24th 2018 honour Mr. Claude LeRoy & Arsene Wenger for their respective roles in the career of President George Weah at a investiture ceremony in Monrovia. Thanks to the two coaches for giving him the opportunity for the world to see him pic.twitter.com/20thUlGqxb
— Andy Quamie (@QuamieAndy) August 20, 2018
A government minister said the award was not only about the personal connection between the president and Wenger but rather a recognition of his contribution to sports in Africa by giving players from the continent a chance.