Cincinnati (AFP) – Timothy Weah is determined to make his famous footballing father proud and impress on a stage he never graced by leading the United States towards a solid World Cup showing in Qatar.
The American forward’s father George, the only African player to win the Ballon d’Or, is widely regarded as one of the greatest players never to play in the World Cup, unable to guide Liberia to the finals during his glittering career.
But with New York-born Timothy emerging as a key player in US coach Gregg Berhalter’s plans, the former AC Milan striker and current President of Liberia will at least be able to live his World Cup fantasy through his son.
“It’s gonna be fun,” Lille star Timothy Weah told AFP ahead of the USA’s international friendly with Morocco in Cincinnati on Wednesday.
“Something that’s been on my mind since I was a kid was qualifying for a World Cup, and it’s finally here,” the 22-year-old added.
“Obviously, my dad never got the chance to play in a World Cup, which is very unfortunate. But, you know, he has a chance to live that dream through me.
“As a father, it’s great to see your son potentially be on such a big stage. The whole family’s happy.”
Weah’s ambition to play in the World Cup intensified after attending the 2010 finals with his father.
“My dad took a vacation in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup as he was working for FIFA at that time. So I had the chance to be at the games.
“I was at the final too so seeing that as a 10-year-old is amazing. It just made me want to dream.”
– ‘Laughs, good vibes’ –
Weah’s celebrity parent hasn’t gone unnoticed in the American camp.
“I kind of knew who his dad was before I met him, and I couldn’t believe it,”said defender Walker Zimmerman.
“Oh my gosh, it’s crazy. This guy (George Weah) is like royalty. And then you meet Tim, he is one of the biggest personalities in the team.
“Always brings laughs, good vibes and music to the locker room. He had some tough injuries as a kid but has continued to push forward.”
Representing his country at the World Cup will cap a whirlwind few years for Weah who was a Ligue 1 title winner with Lille in 2021 before a difficult season saw the club finish 10th behind eventual winners Paris St. Germain.
Nevertheless, Weah will arrive in Qatar steeled by all his experiences in France.
“These past few seasons, especially winning the title, experience-wise has really been great for me,” he admitted.
“And I feel like I’m at a point where at the professional level, I’m getting really uncomfortable.
“And it’s just about exploring my talents and going into this season leading up to the World Cup and, and hopefully just levelling up my game before we get there.
“But I can’t complain…It’s been a great experience so far. I’m loving every bit of it. So I just have to stay focused, keep working, and keep my eye on the prize.”
Weah meanwhile was happy to see friend Kylian Mbappe opt to stay in France with PSG after sealing one of the most lucrative deals in history, frustrating European Champions Real Madrid.
“Kylian is a great player and I have huge respect for him,” said Weah.
“He’s one of my friends, I played with him. So seeing him get the glory and getting what he deserves is amazing. No one should take that away from him.”
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