Following in the footsteps of a famous parent can always be challenging for a youngster, especially when it is in the same endeavour. For USA U-17 forward Tim Weah, those footsteps are those of his father – legendary African footballer George Weah.
For a time, the senior Weah was considered one of the best players in the world. In 1995, the former Liberian international striker was named FIFA World Player of the Year after his goalscoring exploits with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and AC Milan.
As the youngest son of the well-known 50-year-old, Weah sees nothing but advantages in having a former professional footballer as a parent for his burgeoning career.
“My dad has a major impact on everything that I do, whether involving soccer or just life in general,” the 17-year-old said in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “He is always giving me tips on how to become a better player and always to keep my head on my shoulders. He tells me to keep pushing [forward] and the sky’s the limit – be who you want to be and never give up. We have a great relationship.”
Pathway to Paris
In an ironic twist, Weah’s footballing journey has seen him end up at the same club where his father shined during his playing days in Europe in the mid-1990’s. Following a successful trial, the forward became part of the youth academy at PSG before signing his first professional contract with the French giants last month.
“It’s kind of crazy because who would have known I would end up with PSG – a team that my father has played for,” Weah said. “It could have been any other team, but PSG opened the door and it’s just such a coincidence that they wanted me. I took the opportunity with open hands and I appreciate it to this day. They treat me with much respect, with love and care. It’s basically a family. I love that about this club and I would love to stay here for years to come.”
High hopes in India
Breaking new ground in football seems to be in the blood of the Weah family. While his father set new benchmarks for African footballers during his playing days, the younger Weah has his eyes set on leading USA to FIFA U-17 World Cup glory in India this October. The forward believes the Stars and Stripes took big steps forward when it finished runners-up at this year’s CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Panama.
“I thought it went really well because this was our first big tournament as a group,” Weah said of the qualifiers in central America. “This was a huge turning point for us because I really saw that this team can go somewhere and can actually win big things, so we need to take things from that tournament, go to India, and win the World Cup because this [USA] U-17 team is capable of doing great things.”
Drawn in Group A, USA will have the challenging task of being the first opponents for tournament hosts India in New Delhi on Friday 6 October before facing two-time U-17 World Cup champions Ghana three days later. The Americans conclude their group stage campaign against Colombia in Navi Mumbai on Thursday 12 October.
For the ambitious Weah, India 2017 provides a major opportunity for himself and his USA team-mates to achieve something special. “I want people to think we’re the next big thing, the next team that’s going to make history, the wonder kids, the boys who change soccer for America, the future. That’s what I believe this team has,” he said. “When people hear ‘USA’, I want them to think these boys are here for business, they’re not here to play around.”