(AP) – Liberia President George Weah handed his former Monaco coach Arsene Wenger one of the west African nation’s highest honors at a ceremony held in the capital on Friday.
Wenger, who stepped down in April after serving as manager of English club Arsenal for 22 years, received The Humane Order of African Redemption for nurturing Weah and other Africans during their soccer careers in Europe.
Liberia’s chief of protocol Jarvis Whiterspoon read out a long, emotional citation to explain why the honor was being bestowed on Wenger, who received a standing ovation and was embraced by Weah.
In the citation, former striker Weah told of how the 68-year-old Frenchman’s coaching skills earned him the nickname ‘The Professor’.
“Dear Mr. President . now you are my president, before you were my player,” Wenger said at the Samuel Doe Sports Complex. “I was always impressed by the love for your country.”
Wenger went on to wish the 51-year-old Weah, who also had playing spells with AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille, “a great future because you deserve it.”
Togo coach Claude Le Roy, who introduced Weah to Wenger and Monaco in 1988, was also honored at the ceremony.