Timothy Weah set to realise his World Cup dreams for the US in Qatar
EXCLUSIVE: US forward Timothy Weah went to a World Cup aged 10, now he’s about to realise his dream of playing in it with proud dad George watching – and he says US don’t fear England… or anyone!
- Weah, 22, is poised to represent the United States at the World Cup in Qatar
- His father George was a legendary player but never reached a finals with Liberia
- But Liberia’s president and the whole Weah family are heading out to Qatar
- Lille winger Weah has overcome injury issues and will play key role for USMNT
- They face a tough group containing England, Wales and Iran but are confident
- Click here for all your latest international Sports news from DailyMail.com
- Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
When Timothy Weah was 10, his father took him to the World Cup final and inspired a dream.
It was certainly not a vintage game that evening at Soccer City in Johannesburg. Holland betrayed their ‘Total Football’ heritage with a display of cynical tackles to stifle Spain’s beautiful tiki-taka – not least when Nigel de Jong kung-fu kicked Xabi Alonso in the chest.
But in the end ‘good’ prevailed when Andreas Iniesta won the contest deep into extra time.
‘It was one of my first times actually going to a football game so being there, seeing that atmosphere, in what was one of the best World Cups of all time…’ Weah recalls.
‘South Africa was amazing, the vuvuzelas all around, you couldn’t ask for a better experience.
‘From that time, it has always been a dream of mine to play in the World Cup and represent my country.’
Tim Weah is set to be a key player for the United States during the upcoming Qatar World Cup
Coach Gregg Berhalter and fans everywhere will look to Weah to provide inspiration
Weah was taken by his father George to watch Spain beat Holland in the 2010 World Cup final
A dozen years on and Weah is poised to realise that dream when he lines up for the United States in Qatar later this month.
Tim’s father George Weah represented some of Europe’s biggest clubs and won the Ballon d’Or for the world’s best player
The 22-year-old winger, who plays his club soccer for Lille in France, will be a key creative force for the USMNT as they attempt to navigate their way out of a tricky group containing England, Wales and Iran.
Coach Gregg Berhalter and fans everywhere will be looking to Weah to provide those moments of genius that decide games at the highest level.
Of course, Weah’s father George was one of the finest footballers ever to emerge from Africa.
Weah Snr played for some of Europe’s top clubs, including Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan. In 1995, he won the Ballon d’Or award for being the best footballer in the world.
But he never graced a World Cup. His country Liberia have never qualified, coming closes in 2002 when they finished a point behind Nigeria in their qualification group.
Finally though, the Weah family will be represented.
‘I know he is excited deep down because he didn’t get the chance to play in a World Cup with his country,’ Weah Jnr told DailyMail.com. ‘I feel he is living that moment through me.
‘He is excited like any father or mother would be. They want me to do my best and I just want to perform.’
Weah Snr is now the president of Liberia but he is heading to Qatar to watch some matches
Back from a foot injury, Weah is impressing with his form for French club Lille in Ligue 1
It should be pointed out that George, 56, is now Liberia’s president but funnily enough time will be found in his busy schedule to get to Qatar in the coming days, along with wife Clar and a big entourage of relatives.
‘It’s the biggest tournament of all, playing in front of your family and having the opportunity to have your name on the back of your jersey is a great feeling,’ Weah says.
‘I know my mum will cry, she will get emotional. We have been through everything together, from me not playing in America, being on the bench with club teams, when I was younger to where I am today.
‘I hope I make them proud.’
Tim could have played for Liberia – or France or Jamaica for that matter – but it was always going to be the United States for this Brooklyn native.
He has scored three times in his 25 outings and has felt the unflinching support of Berhalter and his staff during the injury setbacks that have affected his young career.
Weah in a photoshoot for his sponsor New Balance ahead of his first World Cup in Qatar
Weah sports the New Balance 574 trainers during his photoshoot ahead of the tournament
November 21 – United States vs Wales
Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
November 25 – England vs United States
Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
November 29 – Iran vs United States
Al Thumama Stadium, Doha
For example, issues during his debut season at Lille, whom he joined from Paris Saint-Germain in summer 2019, restricted him to just three games.
And at the beginning of the current campaign, with the World Cup on the horizon, a foot injury meant he didn’t make his first club appearance until October 9.
‘It’s lonely being injured, it’s hard. But the recovery process and the people you have around you helps you recover fast,’ Weah says.
‘Gregg and the coaches with the national team, the doctors and physios, have always been supportive. Coach Gregg is always texting me, making sure I’m good, the doctors are texting me.
‘You feel comfortable. They have supported me since day one. It’s crazy to think that before our previous qualifying round, I was injured before that but he still called me up and gave me a lot of playtime.
‘That goes to show how much faith he has in me, so I just want to fight for him and help the team.
‘I am happy with how the season has gone so far. I’m getting back into the team and into the rhythm. Hopefully I can just take this momentum with my club team and take it into World Cup.’
The US kick-off their World Cup against Wales in Al Rayyan on November 21. Four days later, the eyes of the globe will be on their meeting with England at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Weah celebrates scoring one of his three international goals – against Jamaica last year
Weah acknowledges the magnitude of the game and the daunting challenged posed by last year’s European Championship finalists.
‘When you look at England’s national team, you can’t really think anything else than they’re an amazing team with amazing players,’ he says.
‘There are guys I played with, such as Reece James when I was trialling at Chelsea. Me and Raheem Sterling are signed to the same brand, New Balance, and he’s like a brother from another mother.
‘But in this case it’s a competition so we have to take the game very seriously. They are one of the best teams in the World Cup even if they’re not in the best of form right now.
‘We have to make sure we come with everything we have, stay humble and make sure we get the job done.’
Weah knows England stars Raheem Sterling (left) and Reece James (right) well
Back in the aforementioned 2010 World Cup, most people expected England to roll the US in what was an opening group game.
That certainly appeared to be the case when Steven Gerrard scored after only four minutes. But a vintage US side containing Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore levelled through Dempsey before halftime and held on for a famous draw.
‘The past games between the US and England have been amazing, watching that group of players fight it out and pull off a draw was good,’ Weah says.
‘I know it’s going to be a big game, everyone will be talking about it, it’s going to be the talk of the World Cup because of the history between the United States and the UK.
‘It’s going to be fun, I can’t wait, it’s going to be a great experience.
Clint Dempsey scores his famous goal as the United States drew 1-1 with England back in 2010
‘I played against England once at Wembley and we lost [3-0 in 2018] so hopefully this time we can give them more of a challenge.’
This unique winter World Cup, which runs from November 20 until December 18, will see a tightly packed schedule but Weah hopes he can take in some of the other action during downtime.
‘I’m looking forward to seeing my French guys, Kylian [Mbappe], Kingsley Coman, the whole French team,’ he says.
‘Obviously you get to watch [Lionel] Messi and Neymar compete at the highest level and perform to the best of their ability.
‘These are guys I looked up to when I was younger and I still do to this day so to be at the same tournament is an honour for sure.
It’s now or never for Lionel Messi as he heads to his final World Cup with Argentina
‘This is going to be Messi’s last-ever World Cup, so that will be a special moment. He is one of the best-ever and I’m happy to be alive in this period to watch him do what he does.’
While Messi’s World Cup journey is coming to an end, Weah’s is only just getting started.
Tim Weah, USA Men’s National Team and LOSC Lille star, is a Team New Balance athlete. You can buy New Balance’s 574 shoes here, 1080 shoes here, or new Headline Taker boots here.
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