Crowds of excited Arsenal fans on Thursday welcomed Arsene Wenger as he arrived in Liberia ahead of an awards ceremony where he will be given the country’s highest honour on Friday, BBC News reports.
The former Arsenal manager was Liberian President George Weah’s first European football coach and brought him to Monaco in 1988.
Weah went on to become the only African to win FIFA World Player of the Year.
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.
Wenger told the media that he had come to the country to visit George and was not aware of any honour.
He previously expressed his admiration for Weah in an interview with the BBC.
“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 said.
“The life of this guy is a real film. It is unbelievable. It can make a fantastic film.”
Some Liberians say that the honour should not have been given to an individual for what they had done for the president personally.
On a Liberian morning radio show, called 50-50, some of the listeners who called in said Weah should have honoured the Liberian coaches who trained him before he caught the eye of the international community.
Liberia’s Information Minister Eugene Nagbe told the BBC the award was not only about Weah’s personal connection with Wenger, but was a way to recognise that the Frenchman had “contributed to sports in Africa and has given many Africans opportunities”.
Wenger coached 16 African players at Arsenal, including Ivory Coast’s Kolo Toure, Cameroon defender Lauren and Nigerian Nwankwo Kanu.