Since his last goal for Liberia against Mali on January 19, 2002 at the start of the final round of the Africa Cup of Nations, George Weah’s famous # 14 shirt has find it difficult to get a new or permanent owner or bearer on the Liberian National team, the Lone Star.
Isaac Tondo a local star at the time for St. Anthony was tipped as the man to take over the number after George Weah announced he was not returning to Liberia and the Lone Star at the end of the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations in Mali where the Liberian government surprisingly dissolved the national team.
That Mali’s Nations Cup was the Legend’s farewell from International football and the Lone Star telling reporters in Bamako, Mali that he hoped his number 14 shirt could be retired by the government as an honor.
‘I have achieved a great deal, yes. Perhaps the government will recognize that. Maybe they would like to retire the 14 shirt (Weah’s number) in remembrance of my achievements for the national team and for the continent of Africa.’ Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll retire all 22” Weah was quoted in the Guardians Newspaper in a late Monday evening interview.
But Tondo did not last in the shirt as it went to other members of the Lone Star who did not equally match the skills the number exhibited while on Weah.
There were always huge aspirations from fans whenever they saw the number 14 shirt on the patch for Liberia Lone Star.
But, players, after players said donning the number 14 shirt, had an extra pressure on them as they couldn’t fit in the shoes of the 1995 ballon do’ winner.
Among the young generation of Liberian players couple of years after the demise of the famous “Weah Eleven”, Anthony Snotti Lafford was seen by many Liberian football fans and technicians as the one that could take over the number 14 uniform.
As he shined in the South African Premier League, Lafford was named Captain of the Lone Star and handed the 14 shirt, replacing his number 18.
The player found scoring for the Lone Star difficult while wearing the number 14 uniform and later had to drop or change the number.
Since then, no star is making use of the shirt, as many fans called for the retirement of the famous numbers 14 and 10 uniforms.
The fans told radio sports programs in Liberia that the two numbers (#14 and #10 worn by Debbah) need to be retired as the country cannot find individuals to take over the numbers where the two great stars left them.
At the end of the Intra-Governmental League, the Soccer Legend, now President of Liberia said the government will formally retire the number in September.
President Weah said an elaborate program is been planned by the Youth and Sports Ministry to retire the uniform.
Several former international teammates of the African Soccer Legend and other great international soccer stars are expected to grace the program.
George Weah scored 22 times wearing the famous #14 jersey which was previously worn by another Iconic Liberian Football Star, Mama Musa.
Weah took charge of the number in 1986 in his first senior competitive match against Sierra Leone and held on to the number for 16 years taking Liberia to two Nations Cups and almost got Liberia to the 2002 Fifa World Cup.
Many Liberian football fans who spoke to The Monrovia Times are said to be in support of retiring the number as Liberia struggles to produce another promising lad for the number.