President George Weah of Liberia is set to award his former football coach, Arsène Wenger with the highest honour in the country.
Wenger signed Weah in 1988 when he coached Monaco and has gone on to nurture many African stars.
According go Liberia’s Information Minister, Eugene Nagbe, Wenger is expected to be in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, for the award ceremony on Friday.
Wenger will be inducted into the country’s Order of Distinction and be given the title of Knight Grand Commander of the Humane Order of African Redemption – the highest rank possible.
The news has generated controversy in Liberia, with some saying that the honour shouldn’t be given to an individual for what they have done for the president personally. Information minister said the award is not only about personal connection but as a means of recognition for Wenger’s contributions to sports in Africa.
Wenger has coached 16 African players, including Ivory Coast’s Kolo Toure, Cameroon defender Lauren and Nigerian Nwankwo Kanu.
Speaking to journalists back in January, President Weah explained how Wenger took care of him.
“I remember when I saw him the first time at Monaco, coming in a bit lost, not knowing anybody, not being rated by anybody as a player and becoming the best player in the world in 1995 and today becoming the president of his country.”
Wenger is also due to be made a chief by members of Liberia’s Arsenal fan club when he is in the country, the information minister disclosed.
Alongside Wenger, 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.
President Weah who is the only African to have been named World Player of the Year retired from football in 2003 and went into politics succeeding Sirleaf.