George Weah victory will motivate ex-stars — Taribo

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 to many African players who just came to 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 whom 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 percent.

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