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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
You quizzed George Weah
The BBC African football website put your questions to the legendary George Weah.
Many of you sent emails to the man who is possibly the greatest player the continent has produced.
Weah has just signed for Al Jazira in the United Arab Emirates, in what is probably the final move of a glittering career.
But he is still hoping to go out on a high note when he leads Liberia to their second appearance at the Nations Cup Finals in Mali in January.
Weah can look back on a glittering career of over 350 games in Europe's top divisions, scoring over 130 league goals.
He has played for Monaco, Paris St Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City and Marseille, being voted Fifa World Player of the Year in 1995, African Player of the Year twice and claiming two Italian titles.
Why leave France for the UAE?
I decided to leave because I think I want a new experience, because I've done everything in Europe and to have another challenge in another world.
What did you see as the main problems at Manchester City last season?
I don't really know. I don't want to blame anybody, but I don't think City were ready to play in the Premiership, because they weren't prepared. They have good players, but they weren't ready for the step up. Also, every other team that came into the Premiership recruited very well, and those players were playing. But Manchester City recruited, and didn't want to use any of the new players.
There was an allegation that you gave money to some Ghanaian players to lose their match against you so as to brighten Liberia's chances in the World Cup crusade.
How true is this allegation?
It's not true, it's a false allegation. I think it was propaganda from the Ghanaian and Nigerian associations.
Because Nigeria knew they didn't have much hope to go the World Cup, they started a lot of propaganda so people would focus on other things.
Is it true that you used to commute, by Concorde, from New York to Europe whilst playing for Monaco?
Yes. When I played in France and England, I took Concorde to visit my family because it's very fast. It's only three hours. It's not because I had money, but because it was convenient.
I want your honest response. Did you really think that Liberia would have been a better representative of Africa than Nigeria at the world cup 2002?
Liberia would have been the better team because they are young and want to prove to world that they are quality players. It's not a surprise that were were leading in our group - we beat almost all the great teams. Nigeria have been to the World Cup one or two times, but they've never put up a good performance. So I think it's time that other teams go to show what African teams can do. When Liberia goes to the World cup it will be a very good thing for Africa because it will show African talent is developing.
You were probably the best player I ever saw at Chelsea. Would you like to have stayed?
I wanted to stay. But AC Milan were very bad to me. When Chelsea asked for me to stay, Milan said no, we want him back, we're only loaning him for six months. And then when I went to Milan, they didn't want me to play and asked me to leave. Vialli had already begun to recruit new players. It's not Chelsea's fault. I really wanted to finish my career there, but AC Milan created a very sad situation.
Weah, what are you doing about the weakness of the Lone Star defence and midfield?
We're going to do our best, but the problem is that the Liberian league is not full of good players. When I was playing in Liberia the league was competitive, so you could find any player you wanted. So what I'm trying to do is to move players around to test them in different positions. We're trying to do our best - we've had a very good run and from there we will try to make a good side, but we need to find quality players.
Of all the clubs you have played for in your career, who has been your favourite striking partner and why?
There are two players - Marco Simone and David Ginola. Simone, because he was a very intelligent player, very quick and very fast. He could understand me - everything I wanted to do. David Ginola again is a very clever and intelligent player. He was always looking for me. Anything I was doing - he knew it. We connected together, using just eye contact.
I would like to know the most disappointing moment in your football career.
When there was a conspiracy at AC Milan with Alberto Zaccheroni, who for no reason wanted me to leave the squad. After everything I did for them,
they were not flexible, the club didn't tell him that I was a great player that had done really well for the team. He wasn't comfortable working with me - my popularity was too much for him, so I had to leave. That was the most disappointing moment in my career.
What really happened between yourself and Joe Royle at Manchester City?
The reason I left was because Joe Royle attacked me and insulted me personally. He used a word that you shouldn't use against any player. I couldn't accept that kind of insult, so I decided to leave.
Who was the player that influenced you the most and why?
When I came to Europe, Glenn Hoddle influenced me. He was a true professional - willing to talk to me and point me in the right direction.
What's the best game you ever played for Liberia? I think it's the 2-0 against Ghana in '88 - don't you think so?
It's very difficult to say because there have been many great games. But one of the best was when all of Liberia said Nigeria were going to come and beat us 5 or 6 nil in the World Cup qualifiers, so people refused to come and watch us at the stadium. But we outplayed Nigeria and we beat them - and that's probably the greatest game.
What was it like being named World Footballer of the Year in 1995?
It was a huge honour - for me and for my fans. It showed that I'd worked hard and how much people appreciated me. It was because of the many fans who love me and have made me the player I am.
What are the chances of the Lone Star in the coming Nations Cup in Mali 2002.
We are preparing now, and we are very happy we've been drawn with Nigeria. We're going to prove to people that we are a great team.
If the next two years go well for you, and I know they will on and off the field, will you consider playing in the 2006 World Cup qualifying matches for Liberia?
It's very difficult and I think the chances are very slim. I think I've reached a point where I don't want to continue as a player after the Nations Cup. So what I'll try to do is see how else I can help. The idea of travelling around for miles and miles when other people aren't giving full support is not for me. Also I'd like to give some of the younger players a chance to take my position and play like me. So to be the manager of the side would be better.
You scored one of the best ever goals for Milan - when you took it round every player on the pitch - what does it feel like to score a goal of that magnitude?
The goal against Verona was one of my best goals, and it is definitely the goal that has stayed in the minds of people.
I think my greatest goal is the one I scored against Bayern Munich in the European Champions League.
I have read many things about you. Some articles have described you as a Muslim - others as a Christian. Just out of curiosity what religion are you?
I'm a Christian now, but I practiced Islam for ten years before converting to Christianity. One thing I want the world to know is that the world should be peaceful. It's not good for Muslims and Christians to fight against each other - we are one people. There's no need for people to kill each other. I pray for peace for everybody - for Muslim and Christian. For black, white, green, yellow and brown.
Why did you choose to sign for Al Jazira over a Premiership club such as Leicester City who are begging for strikers like yourself?
They made me a very good offer, and I never wanted to wait for people who kept on saying "we need you, we need you". I didn't want to be on the waiting list.
I don't want to waste my time. I love the game and want to play. There's no difference between Al Jazira and any other club in Europe. For me its happiness and the desire to play. If anyone else wants me they can negotiate with Al Jazira.
what would you consider to be the darkest moment in your football career?
When we lost to Ghana in the World Cup qualifiers, which ended our chances of Japan and Korea. Everything ended with that game. It was a devastating moment. If there's a dream I have never realised, it's going to the World Cup. But I hope one day Liberia will go, even if I don't. Maybe it was never meant to be. I think I deserved it, but that's life. If I had really wanted to go I could have changed my nationality, but I decided to stay with Liberia.
Has success and money changed you since you came to Europe to play your football?
It's changed my life. It's given me the opportunity to help others, to know myself, to experience new things. It's taught me the highest level of discipline, to respect other cultures, other races and other people. It's also given me the mentality of a businessman.
Although your time at Manchester City didn't work out, what are your best memories of English football?
When I was with Chelsea. My first game and first goal were fantastic, and then we went on to win the FA Cup. The Chelsea family took good care of me, they were very nice to me. So I will always be thankful to them for that. They gave me the opportunity to play at Wembley for the first and last time.
What are your future plans after a successful football career?
I hope to work with Unicef more - to help promote the image of Unicef, and greater awareness. I've always wished to go to the US Army and join the marines - to see that higher level of discipline.
But due to my age I can't go. That's one of my regrets. I've always wanted to go into the army in America. But I hope to have the opportunity to do some sort of service to America, for my own personal reasons. Also, I want to be a good coach, and to be the first African coach to coach a European team, so the world can know that Africa has the talent when it comes to coaching. I know it will happen because that's my dream, and all my dreams have come to reality.
Do you dream of becoming the Liberian President and uniting your people?
I can unite my people differently - I don't have to be President of the Republic of Liberia. It's not my dream. I want to be a great man of society, to help my community. I don't want to be a politician.
Is it true that you applied for the Man City manager's job when Joe Royle was sacked?
No - when I left I lost contact. The only person I speak to is Paulo Wanchope, because he's a good friend. But I was very happy when Kevin Keegan went to City. He's a very good coach and a nice man. He always wanted me to be on his team when he was at Newcastle. I hope he will change City into a great team.
George, since you maintain a home in the US, is there any chance that you may play for the Metro Stars of the MLS ?
They gave a proposal to me, but it wasn't satisfactory at all. They weren't willing to make the effort, only offering a contract for one year. So I decided to go to the UAE.
European clubs such as Arsenal make it an issue when an African wants to go home to play for his country. What can be done about this injustice?
I know it's very difficult for the clubs because they pay the players. But I think they should allow the players to go, because its a dream of every African player to play in the Nations Cup. Most never have the opportunity to play in the World Cup. Stopping the players will just cause resentment.
I once read that you own a store in Brooklyn. I'm from Long Island, N.Y. and I'd like to know where it is.
I don't have a store. I used to have a fast food restaurant in Brooklyn, but it's closed down now. But I'm trying to do something bigger than that again, a multi-ethnic restaurant, which does Italian, African and European dishes.
17 Sep 01 | Africa
Weah's last stop
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