U17 World Cup: A different 'Weah' rising in India

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With the famous football surname riding his back, Timothy Weah might just be creating his own legacy in the FIFA U17 World Cup in India....

‘Weah’ is a name probably anyone remotely interested in the game of football has heard more often than not. George Weah, probably the most famous African footballer to have ever played the game, made this name his own in a glittering career spanning a mighty 28 years!

Having dazzled for the likes of A.C Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco, he would go on to become the first African footballer to win the FIFA World Player of the year and the Ballon d’Or in 1995. Such is the man’s legacy that he is now running for Presidential elections back home in Liberia.

Weah has three children – George Weah Jr, Tita and Timothy. Unlike his father, Timothy was born in Brooklyn, New York rather than Liberia. Football now runs in the family with both the boys following their father’s footsteps in taking up the game professionally.

Weah Jr, the elder of the two, broke onto the scene after signing up with A.C Milan academy at the age of fourteen in 2003. He would be released from the team in 2007 before travelling through hosts of clubs in Europe ever since then.

With the famous name running on the back of his shirt, comparisons to the senior have always been inevitable. That burden of expectations and curiosity has followed the younger son, Timothy ever since his introduction to professional football.

He learnt the basics of the sport at a small facility named Rosedale Soccer Club in Queens, New York. That facility was owned by his uncle Michael Duncan. Tim through, credits his mother as to where it all started for him.

In an interview with Michael Lewis from BigApplesoccer.com in 2013, Timothy had said: “She knows the game a lot because she watched my dad."

Even at an early age, the comparisons with his dad soon followed Timothy wherever he went.

"Wherever we went, we went to malls and stuff and everyone would be like, 'Oh, that's George Weah.' I would just laugh and say, 'My dad was one of the greatest players and I want to follow in his footsteps.' But I also want to make a name for myself. I want to be Timothy Weah, be myself, play my game and still follow in his footsteps while I'm doing that," he said in the same interview.

The youngest Weah has always wanted to etch his own name since moving through the ranks from USMNT U14s to now with the U17s. Currently a part of the US contingent for the FIFA U17 World Cup in India, the comparisons and excitement of watching George Weah’s son play football have unsurprisingly made their way to the country.

After every single US match, the press box is abuzz with discussions of whether Timothy will show up to the post-match press conferences.

Everyone wants a sound bite from the young Tim as he is fondly called. To be fair to the US support staff, they have made Tim available at every possible opportunity owing to the mass demand, and to be fair to the young boy, he has very graciously answered every single question which links him to his father.

The questions bombarded to him have centered around the name on the back of his shirt but the 17-year-old has taken them all in his stride with aplomb. One can sense that young Tim knows that it all comes with the territory and he does not seek to fight it. He rather lets his own hard work on the pitch do all the talking.

In the spotlight ever since he landed in India, Tim did not exactly set the stage on fire in the opening games. It is not for a lack of trying though, chances simply haven’t fallen his way as they have to his other teammates.

Striker Josh Sargent was taking all the plaudits ever since his starring role for the U20 side in the World Cup earlier this year. Even Timothy spoke of his desire to help Sargent achieve the dream of the Golden Boot in the current World Cup before their arrival in India.

When Sargent was himself asked what he thought of Tim’s dedication to his cause after their opening game victory over hosts India, he had somewhat predicted that things would start to happen for his teammate himself very soon.

"He is a very good teammate. I love playing with him and he is a very unselfish player. I love that about him. But I think if he gets a chance to score a goal he will definitely take it," he had remarked.

Tim, a left-winger cum forward in the US setup, has been a workhorse throughout the group stages without any individual rewards. Unselfish would be the apt way of describing his game,

On Tuesday night against the Paraguay in the first Round of 16 clash however, it was Sargent doing the assisting as Tim lit up the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in New Delhi as he broke his goal drought with a dazzling hat-trick.

His second of the night could well go down as the goal of the tournament come October 28 with the ball making a sweet noise as it nestled in the top-right corner of Paraguay’s goal. The youngster had unleashed a cracker after cutting inside to his right foot from the left-wing. At the post match press conference he was once again rolled out, much to the delight of the assembled scribes.

This time Tim arrived draped in the ‘Stars and Stripes’, revelling in his country’s progress to the quarter-finals. Inevitably the question as to whether his father had wished him after his display arrived. Once again Tim replied with aplomb as if just questions had become second nature to him.

In perhaps a welcome surprise, most of the questions in this particular presser were focused on Tim’s individual performance of the night and deservedly so. The youngster showed no signs of getting carried away after the superb performance, instead playing down his achievements.

"I don't score a lot of beautiful goals so today it was really special. But, it could not have come sans the beautiful assist from Carleton (Andrew) and the run that Gloster (Chris) made," Weah stated.

“I just followed my coach’s specific set of instructions. Whether he wants me to start or come off the bench, I am ready to do my job," he added.

Grit and determination, along with a steely resolve, is certainly not lacking in the player. Still only 17, he was asked whether he could see himself working his way into a starting role with PSG for whose youth team he signed up for in 2013 before signing on professional terms this year.

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"You know, I'm very positive about finding a place in the first squad towards the end of the season. Playing along with Mbappe, Cavani, Neymar will be a dream come true for me. I'm pretty happy practising with the reserve team now and I strongly believe that if coach Unai Emery feels, I'll be right there,” he stated confidently.

That confidence is certainly not misplaced and Tim could be going places based on what we have seen in this World Cup so far.

He might not quite match the extraordinary levels displayed by his father just yet but young Timothy has an attitude that could take him a long way. With more displays such as those on Tuesday, Timothy might just be creating his own unique name as he always craved for. Surely, he is on his way to emerge from the shadows of the Weah fame.

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