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Debbah's Warning Didn't Go Down Well With Weah

Every day, I'd rather train than sleep or eat. "When I moved to Monte Carlo [to play for Monaco in the Cameroonian club Tonnerre Yaoundé in 1988] I did not play for the first six months. However, I was determined to showcase my talent, to prove to people back home, who believed that my coming to Europe was a waste of time, I was a fantastic player." Arsène Wenger was Weah's trainer at Monaco. The connection between them was anything but ordinary. "He was a father figure and considered me as his son. This was a guy, when racism was at its peak, who showed me, love. He wanted me to be on the pitch for him daily.

"One day, I was very tired of training and advised him that I had been having a headache. He explained to me: 'George, I know it's tough but you want to work hard. I feel that with your gift, you can become one of the greatest players on the planet.' The time-consuming needs of politics haven't dimmed his love for the game as he plays in a veterans' league to the Alpha Old Timers every Saturday, provided that he's in Monrovia. Criticism of his parliamentary record cuts no ice with Liberia's overwhelmingly young people, who provide the heart of Weah's support. "The young ones see him as the messiah of the time," says the former Arsenal striker Christopher Wreh, who's Weah's cousin. "The people which have been in control of the country for the past 12 years have allowed us down. We are in need of a real change. agen sbobet

But other members of his family, such as James Debbah -- who's also a cousin and, after Weah, arguably Liberia's hottest football character -- has had his doubts previously. "I would do plenty of injustice if I vote for him," the former Nice and PSG participant said in August 2005. "My motive is that he doesn't have the necessary political encounter. He is going to be attracted to public ridicule, as he is a political newcomer who wouldn't understand the intricacies of politics." Debbah's warning didn't go down well with Weah. "We did not talk for a lengthy time," Debbah states. "It took the death of my mom for us to be reconciled. He arrived for the burial and then we started to talk again."

When asked if he had been encouraging Weah's second stab at the presidency, Debbah chose his words carefully. "There isn't any doubt George has a huge following, especially among the young individuals. He has an excellent chance. "George has achieved a great deal in football and the people love him for this. But if he becomes president of Liberia, the general public will overlook his performances on the football pitch and judge him by what he accomplishes in office. People in the country are yearning for change and need it rather quickly. If he does not deliver it, the people could turn on him. It's a big risk he's taking and I wish him well."

"I do not want to promise things to the people I can't do but I certainly need to leave a legacy. If the folks give you the ability to direct them, they have expectations," he says. "They want you to create the nation, to provide them with opportunities. But I won't ever betray the confidence of my people." A giant banner at the Curva Sud encouraged him to "get lost", while "piece of shit" chants rained down from the stands. Supporters were responding to reports that Donnarumma's attorneys had written to the club asking they rescind the new contract he signed in the summer. This requirement was based on the claim that he had agreed on the deal under duress, was exposed to extreme pressure by the club -- and pilloried by fans -- following his representative, Mino Raiola, said in June that no such agreement would be reached.

The expression "moral violence" was mentioned by Corriere Della Sera, which specifically got under fans' skin. Without visiting the communications between the participant's attorneys and the club, it's tough to know whether any route to rescinding the contract actually exists. What is evident, however, is that it may never be great for the starting goalkeeper to be reduced to tears by his own fans. Milan did win on Wednesday, but it was noteworthy that Donnarumma hung back from his team-mates since they went to acknowledge supporters after the final whistle.


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