GEORGE WEAH: LA PERLA DE ÁFRICA

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Hoy en día son muchos los jugadores provenientes de África que tienen nivel de competición europea. Muchos son los que sin la existencia de bestias como Messi o Cristiano Ronaldo podrían integrar la lista de mejores futbolistas del mundo. Sin embargo hubo un tiempo, hace no mucho, cuando los africanos eran casi únicamente representados por un hombre nacido en Liberia, George Weah.

Weah representa la historia clásica del jugador africano, el chico que encuentra en el fútbol una forma de salir de un mundo que le resulta muy hostil. Un chico que emprende un viaje inesperado y que casi sin quererlo se encuentra embarcado hacia un nuevo rumbo, totalmente desconocido para el. Nacido en Liberia en 1966 en el seno de una familia que ni siquiera llegaba a calificar como “pobre”, su trayectoria siempre estuvo bien ligada a sus raíces.

Desde sus comienzos en su Monrovia natal hasta la cúspide de su carrera en la década del 90 e incluso hasta estos mismos días Weah no se pudo sacar de la cabeza a su gente.

Weah inició su carrera en el Young Survivor, a los 14 años, buscando a la pelota para cambiar su mundo y el que lo rodeaba.

Para ir a entrenar caminaba unas tres horas diarias, desde la casa de su abuela, ya que su madre no podía mantenerlo. Seis años más tarde, conquistó su primer título nacional, ya por el Invincible Eleven. Luego tendría un breve paso por el África Sports marfileño para emigrar nuevamente a Camerún, donde el gran nivel demostrado en el Tonnerre Yaonundé bastaría para que para que otros clubes más potentes se lo llevaran. Cualquiera con algo de criterio futbolístico que lo viera jugar se daría cuenta de que África era muy chico para él y así fue como apareció un joven Arsene Wenger que por entonces dirigía Mónaco para posar su mirada en el.

Arrancaba el cálido verano europeo en el Viejo Continente cuando el morocho aterrizó. Escapaba de una realidad hostil y una geografía que le impedía desarrollarse en su máximo potencial. Potencial que demostraría tener recién desembarcado en el principado. 14 goles en 23 partidos para un chico ajeno a ese mundo y de apenas 22 años. Nada mal. Luego de cuatro años y una Copa Francia en su haber, Weah cruzó la frontera hacia la capital francesa. Dejaba atrás al Mónaco, y algo mas que sus 100 partidos y casi 50 goles, dejaba atrás a su mentor, su padre futbolístico, Wenger. En la capital lo esperaba PSG, donde siguió demostrando. En tres años consiguió un título nacional, dos Copas Nacionales, una Supercopa y ser el máximo goleador de la Champions League.

Luego de un primer semestre de 1995 genial se volvió a ir, ahora a Milán, donde tras finalizar el año se consagró como el Mejor Jugador del Mundo para la FIFA y se quedó con el Ballon d’Or, otorgado por la prestigiosa Revista France Football. El mundo estaba a sus pies pero el volvió a su gran amigo Wenger a entregarle su premio, premio que aún conserva el francés, ejemplo de humildad. En Milán lo adoraban. La velocidad del liberiano, su amplísima zancada, su potencia y una técnica depuradísima le convirtieron en el digno sucesor de Van Basten. Potentísimo por alto, Weah fue un excelente rematador que posee todas las cualidades de su predecesor, a la que une además una velocidad y una agilidad que sólo los africanos poseen. Su contribución goleadora durante su estadía con los Rossoneris fue clave para la obtención de los Scudettos de 1996 y 1999.

Su carrera continuó, ya de manera diluida, en el Chelsea, el Manchester City y el Olympique de Marsella. Para finalmente irse a los exóticos Emiratos Arabes, donde culminaría una fructuosa carrera. Ahora bien, si hoy las ganas de defender a la selección nacional son puestas en jaque a todo instante, lo mismo no se puede emplear cuando se refiere a Weah-Liberia. El ex-delantero jamás estuvo cerca de disputar un Mundial de Fútbol, pero el dilema de jugar con su nación o no nunca acechó su mente. Respetó la camiseta de Liberia en las fases de la clasificación para los mundiales de 1994, 1998 y 2002 (en esta ultimo también ejerció el papel de DT), amistosos y Copas de África. En la edición africana de 1996, además, pagó los gastos de la delegación en Sudáfrica. Weah sabía que los resultados dentro de campo difícilmente serían favorables. Pero los objetivos eran realmente otros. Fue reflejándose en el crack la imagen de miles de niños liberianos azotados por una terrible Guerra Civil suscitada en su país que pasaron a creer que podrían vencer. Luego de retirado Weah volvió a su Monrovia natal, donde sino para ayudar a su gente, a la que tanto le dio. Entre sus tantas acciones sociales, resignó gran parte del dinero ganado en su carrera implementado programas de educación y fútbol para los niños carenciados de su etnia, de las más pobres del territorio Africano. Hoy además se involucró en la vida política del país. Luego de ser embajador de Unicef Weah sigue peleando porque su país se convierta en un lugar mejor. Su interés por la política nació tras un encuentro con el expresidente de Sudáfrica y líder de la lucha contra el apartheid, Nelson Mandela, a mediados de los años 90, en plena guerra civil de su país.
En 2005, Weah se lanzó en la carrera presidencial por su país. A pesar de su falta de experiencia sus promesas de vivienda barata, agua corriente, educación y electricidad le llevaron a ganar la primera vuelta electoral, si bien perdió en la segunda vuelta contra Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, la primera mujer en ser elegida presidenta en África. Así todo su pueblo Liberiano sigue viviendo en una de las peores miserias del mundo y el ya anunció que va estar peleando por la presidencia nuevamente en 2017. En Liberia, gran parte de la población no tiene acceso a la electricidad ni agua corriente.
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