- Arsene Wenger was handed his baby namesake on arrival in Monrovia
- The Frenchman will receive an award from Liberia's president George Weah on August 24
- The Liberian president played under Wenger at French club Monaco
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger met a huge surprise on arrival in Liberia ahead of his planned induction into the country’s Order of Distinction in a ceremony in Monrovia.
According to a UK Telegraph report the Frenchman was handed the baby named after him as soon as he arrived for Thursday’s ceremony in Monrovia.
The former Arsenal boss is being honoured by president, George Weah, who played under Wenger in 1988 during his spell as Monaco coach.
The country’s president Weah, who was elected president of Liberia last year, will honour the football tactician and another veteran French soccer manager, Claude Le Roy, at a state function on Friday after the pair played important roles in his life.
Interestingly, the ex-Gunners manager Wenger signed Weah in the late 1980s, offering him a platform to showcase his talent, and the Liberian would go on to ply his trade with clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, and emerged the first and still only African football pro to claim the prestigious FIFA world player of the year award in 1995.
The 68-year-old Wenger was welcomed at Liberia’s international airport in Harbel by hundreds of fans in Arsenal shirts, alongside the country’s minister of youth and sports, Zoegar Wilson.
However, they were opposition politicians who faulted Weah’s plans to hand Wenger Liberia's highest award on Wednesday.
Liberian sports minister Wilson noted that Wenger will still be given the Humane Order of African Redemption with the rank of Knight Grand Commander.
On the other divide Darius Dillon, an opposition politician, is claiming the president is using the country's highest honour and the office of the president to recognize indivduals who only played a role in his "personal life."
"The nation's highest honour cannot be given to somebody who has not done something directly for the country," Dillion was quoted as saying.
In addition, other politicians have also criticized the former football star over the decision. Emmanuel Gonquoi of the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia termed it "a complete waste of time."
Weah is Liberia's best sportsman ever but his reign as world’s best football player coincided with civil war in his country.
Interestingly, the Liberian president dedicated his award to Wenger after emerging world player of the year and has said the ex- Arsenal coach remains the most important influence on his career.
Previously, Weah ensured the Frenchman was around during his inauguration as president in January, although Wenger couldn't attend.
Wenger has repeatedly applauded Weah: "The life of this guy is a real film," Wenger said early this year. "It's unbelievable. It can make a fantastic film."
The 51-year-old Weah quit active football in 2003, and turned his focus to politics, failing in to land the Liberian job in his first attempt in 2005.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com previously had reported that former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has landed in Liberia, as he prepares to receive a top award from the country's President George Weah.
The Frenchman who coached Liberia's president Weah at Monaco arrived Monrovia on Wednesday night, August 22, ahead of his recognition by the African country.
Weah, 51, was elected as president last year and has decided to honour Wenger and fellow French coach Claude Le Roy on Friday, August 24, after they both played huge roles in his career.
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