Hellberg’s Liberia choice influenced by Weah

Seth Kanteh Hellberg is the first Swedish-born player to feature for LiberiaMidfielder Seth Kanteh Hellberg says the decision to commit his international future to Liberia was influenced by the legacy of Lone Star great George Weah.Hellberg, who is the first Swedish-born player to be selected by Liberia, made his debut under new coach Peter Butler in the recent two-legged World Cup qualifier against Sierra Leone.”I feel amazing. It was a dream come true to play for Liberia,” Hellberg told BBC Sport. The 24-year-old was born to a Liberian mother and Swedish father and plays in Sweden’s second tier with IK Brage. “I have been in Sweden all my life and I was raised by my mum like a Liberian.”So I always feel like a Liberian. I first came to Liberia in 2008 and 2013. I feel closer to the people here than in Sweden.””The name George Weah was a big influence and factor so I didn’t hesitate when Liberian Football Association (LFA) executive Henry Flomo approached me in Sweden and came over to see me play for my club.”Weah has done so much for Liberia on the pitch and any aspiring footballer, especially from Liberia, will want to follow his footsteps.”
Liberia have now retired the iconic number 14 shirt that George Weah wore for the national teamWeah scored 10 goals in 47 international matches and is now the country’s president. He also became the first African to be voted World Player of the Year in 1995.Now it is Hellberg’s performances gaining praise from both the Liberian media and fans after the Lone Star won out in the controversial tie with Sierra Leone.”I am happy that we survived the intimidation in Sierra Leone by qualifying for the group stage. It will be tough because there are no small teams in football. And we will be looking forward to Weah’s support.”Peter Butler believes Hellberg and a number of other young players will be key during the second round of qualifying for Qatar 2022.”Seth had a fantastic performance over two legs, especially playing in Africa for the first time. He did a great job for the team in attacking and defending. “Oscar [Dorley] is 21. Allen [Njie] and [Mohammed] Sangare are just 20. So they were excellent in midfield and will play a major part together with other young players.”Next up for Liberia is an international friendly with Botswana in Gaborone on 30 September before a two-legged preliminary qualifier against Chad for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. One man who won’t be available is defender Joel Johnson after he broke a bone in his left foot in the first match against Sierra Leone.Johnson’s club side in the USA, Charlotte Independence, have confirmed the 26-year-old will be out for about 10 weeks.The participation of midfielder Tonia Tisdell could also be in doubt despite an apology to Butler and the LFA for poor behaviour.
Liberia’s Tonia Tisdell plays in Cyprus for Nea Salamis Famagusta (Photo courtesy of LFA photographer James B. Sillah)Tisdell has blamed family problems for the actions which saw him thrown out of the Liberia camp ahead of the second leg with Sierra Leone in Freetown.”It is a difficult time for me right now. At times we make mistakes to learn from them,” Tisdell said in a statement seen by BBC Sport.”I have been faced with some personal family issues that led to my regrettable response.”My actions were so wrong and there is no excuse for such acts as a professional, especially from one of the longest serving players on the national team.”Honestly, I am very sorry for the distraction from a great start working with the new coach. I fully accept the disciplinary action taken by the national team. “I am human and my actions were inexcusable, but one good thing is that I will always have the national team at heart. It is bigger than any individual regardless of status. Again, I am very sorry.”Details of the reason for Tisdell’s expulsion have not been made public by the LFA.


Source link : https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/49710240

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Publish date : 2019-09-15 18:26:16

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