Arsene Wenger has told the “unbelievable story” of how he discovered George Weah.
The Arsenal manager signed Weah in 1988 when he was in charge of Monaco. Seven years later the Liberian striker became the only African player to win the Ballon d’Or.
Weah went on to win Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain and Serie A with AC Milan, and Wenger has revealed the positive influence he had on the striker's career.
"George Weah was also a fantastic person and the story of how I brought him there was absolutely unbelievable"
“It was an unbelievable story that would make a book in itself,” he said. “First I would to say that George was not only an exceptional player, George Weah was also a fantastic person and the story of how I brought him there was absolutely unbelievable.
“A friend of mine was working in Africa and I asked him whether he had seen any strikers. He recommended George Weah and I sent somebody over there to watch him. We brought him over for £50,000 and it took him a while to adapt, but he was ambitious, talented, had great hunger for work and I worked a lot with him.
“He became an absolutely unbelievable player. We still have a strong relationship and when he became World Player of the Year he gave me his award. Every manager was sitting in there - Capello, Lippi - and they were absolutely amazed that a player at his age was capable of that. He’s just a remarkable person."
Wenger’s time in the principality also saw him develop three future World Cup winners - including Thierry Henry - alongside his former assistant, Jean Petit.
“We’re proud of having brought through young players like Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry, Lilian Thuram and Manuel Amoros who all played for the French national team,” Petit told Arsenal Player. “From those players, Petit and Henry were lucky in that Arsene Wenger called them up and brought them to Arsenal.
“I think that was good for them because Thierry was with us, he gave him his debut and then he went to Juventus for six months but it didn’t work out. Arsene remembered him, signed him and he took off at Arsenal. We had a number of players who really kicked on, either abroad or in France."
"We made Thierry start at the age of 17 and he became the exceptional football player that we all know and the person he is today," added Wenger.
"Our job is also about influencing people’s lives in a positive way. It’s a quality that is usually not rated by the media but when you look back you will see that Arsenal has done that very well."
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