Liberian President George Weah is to award his former football coach, Arsène Wenger, his country’s highest honour.
President Weah, the only African to have been named World Player of the Year, was signed by Wenger in 1988 when he coached Monaco. Wenger, who stepped down as Arsenal manager in May after 22 years, nurtured several African stars.
The president retired from football in 2003 and went into politics. He won last year’s election by a landslide.
Wenger is expected to be in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, for the award ceremony on Friday, August 24, Liberia’s Information Minister Eugene Nagbe told the BBC.
He 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 should not be given to an individual for what they have done for the president personally, according to the BBC.
President Weah has said that Wenger “took care of me like his son” when he went to Monaco, adding that “besides God, I think that without Arsène, there was no way I would have made it in Europe”.
Wenger has returned the compliment, calling the president’s life story “a miracle”.
“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,” he told journalists in January.