USMNT star, Ligue 1 champion, musician, businessman: Tim Weah is much more than George’s son
Every player, every person, has a story. And, for much of his life, Tim Weah’s story has been told within the context of his last name.
And that’s hardly surprising, of course. It’s a last name that carries weight, that means something to people all over the world.
His father, George, isn’t just one of football’s most recognized stars; he’s one of the sport’s most transcendent figures, having bridged philanthropy with politics by becoming president of his native Liberia.
But that’s not Weah’s whole story. There’s more to it than just a famous surname. Or even a fledgling football career.
Weah’s story is a combination of many things: soccer, music, fashion, pressure, identity. It’s a story of a title-winner, a national team star, a businessman. It’s also the story of self-described “low-key guy” that finds peace in writing his own lyrics, and his own narrative.
“He’s worked hard to get to where he is for himself and my family,” Weah tells GOAL when asked about the pressures of being George Weah’s son, “so I feel like whenever people have the opportunity to give him his flowers, whenever I have the opportunity to give him flowers, I just let it ride because he deserves it.
“From a personal point, it’s amazing for me even having a father, to be blessed with a father, that has done so much and accomplished so much. He just sets the bar higher. I’ve never had that in my head, telling me that I didn’t want to do this because it’s going to be overwhelming. It’s just the extra boost for me, of which I’ve always been 100 percent focused on football.
“As the years go by, obviously, with age, I’m experiencing new things, trying new stuff, fashion, music, and just finding myself and I feel like I’m happy. I’m happy with how everything’s going right now. I feel like everything happens for a reason.”
At just 21 years old, Weah has plenty to be happy about. This week, he’s part of the USMNT’s squad to take on Mexico, having established himself as one of the USMNT’s seemingly endless army of young talent.
Born in Brooklyn, to his Liberian father and his Jamaican mother, Clar, Weah’s soccer education is distinctly American. He grew up surrounded by different cultures, different styles, all of which rubbed off on him. Weah says he got his father’s technique, but his mother’s competitive spirit, as it was Clar, not George, that pushed their son the hardest.
Weah is also playing regularly for Lille, having helped the club to a stunning Ligue 1 title last season. That title ended Paris Saint-Germain’s reign atop Ligue 1, at least for the time being.
A Lille squad led by youngsters like Weah and Jonathan David as well as veterans like Jose Fonte and Burak Yilmaz did what once was seemingly impossible, becoming only the second club not named PSG to win the title in a decade.
“Man, from the jump,” Weah says when asked when he knew Lille had “it”. “From the jump, I told everyone that we’re going to be champions that season. Every season I play in, whether it was here, at Celtic, before at PSG, I’ve always had that mindset. For me, personally, it’s always good to be over-ambitious.”
He continues: “I think, with time, [Ligue 1] will get the respect it deserves. Obviously, the people coming with ‘farmers’, we understand that’s completely ignorant. It’s ridiculous. But, hey, for me, it’s one of the toughest leagues in the world, besides Premier League, stuff like that, because every league is different. Everything is different.”
But Weah’s ambitions aren’t all about how many trophies he can rack up on the soccer field, although he’s already lifted league titles with Lille, PSG and Celtic as well as a Nations League trophy with the USMNT.
They lie in the music studio, in the fashion world and in the boardroom, as Weah prides himself on finding joy in different aspects of life.
Aside from on the pitch, the music studio may just be where Weah feels most comfortable. He was raised on Marvin Gaye and Same Cooke, after all.
“I’ve always had a pretty basic understanding of what good music is,” he says.
It’s in the studio that Weah finds his escape from the pressures of the outside world. Playing in Ligue 1 and starring for the national team, sometimes it’s nice to just take a break, to lock yourself in a room with no place to go and write whatever pops into your head.
The moment he gets home from training, Weah darts right to the studio. Once there, he works alongside one his best friends, a producer by the name of Fleetzy. Weah is the lyricist, Fleetzy is the engineer and, together, they create.
“My brother,” Weah says. “A magician.”
Weah doesn’t go out much, he says, unlike most footballers his age. He sees Lille as a quiet, peaceful place to live, a city where he’s free to be on his own and explore his own passions.
Fashion is one of them, as Weah enjoys exploring the connections between clothing and culture. But chief among them is his music, which allows him to clear his head in a way that nothing else really does.
“It’s super-important for me,” he says. “Music is my muse. Some people like to read, people like to do other things, but music is my getaway. It just puts me in a different world. It’s an escape for me. As soon as I come home from training, I eat, I rest up and then I’m in the studio writing, just trying to free my mind, just get to a different spot because, football can definitely be stressful if you think about it 100 percent of the time. You can tend to lose your head. So, music is definitely my escape.”
Over the last year, in particular, that escape has become all the more important. While locked in during the coronavirus pandemic, Weah found writing to be not just cathartic but entertaining. When stuck inside the house, there’s only so much you can do.
And, during that period, the world saw footballers open up in ways they never had before. Sergio Aguero, Neymar and Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez all became regulars on Twitch. Alphonso Davies, the Bayern Munich star, exploded on TikTok. Marcus Rashford, famously, has been devoting so much of his free time to charitable causes in those moments where he’s stepped away from the field.
For years, the narrative was that anything away from the field was a distraction. These days, Weah says, anyone who isn’t finding joy in something other than soccer is taking an even bigger risk.
“Times are changing,” he says. “Obviously with guys like Memphis [Depay], he’s putting out music. He’s putting out out an album as well, I think, and he’s still balling out for Barca.
“So, I feel like, as an athlete, as someone who was always focused on gametime, practice, making sure you’re doing well, I think it’s also good to have that escape as well whether it’s music, fashion, whether you’re on Twitch, TikTok. It just gives you the opportunity to free your mind and also enjoy other things because for a lot of people, it’s not always about football.
“Sometimes, you have to learn to get away and experience other things. I feel like, with me experiencing the music side of things, I feel I’m happier. It’s a positive vibe, and it just helps me on the field.”
Weah’s latest venture isn’t one in the studio or on the field, but rather in business.
The winger, alongside Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tyler Adams and Caden Clark, has joined STATSports as an investor and an ambassador as he’s partnered with the company, which is used by a number of top clubs and national teams to provide GPS performance data for players.
With the partnership, Weah gets the chance to invest in a product that he, as a player, uses quite often, one which has helped him develop and refine his own game on the field. It also gives him a chance to bridge the technology gap between the top level and the grassroots level as well as a chance to build his off-field portfolio.
“It was an immediate yes because they were offering shares in the company as well,” he says. “As you know, I think that’s huge. For any player, any young guy, I think investing is important, so as far as giving me the opportunity to do that at an early age is amazing.
“As technology goes on, and as a player of this generation, we’ve been using STATSports for a while now. So, as a player who is all about running and about staying fit and staying away from injuries, I feel like knowing how much I’m running during a training session, knowing how much I ran during the game, how fast I’m going, top speed and all that stuff was important for me.
“After my third injury, I started paying attention more to the data, just started using it to my benefit, which is knowing how much I need to run in training, when I need to slow it down, when I need to speed it up. It’s just amazing.”
This week, though, is all about the USMNT for Weah. He’s joined up with the team ahead of vital matches: Friday night’s clash with Mexico and Tuesday’s visit to Jamaica. After Friday, the U.S. will have officially reached the midway point of World Cup qualifying, and will have a pretty good idea of where they stand on the road to Qatar.
Currently, the U.S. sit second in the table, with Weah one of the reasons why. Although officially ruled an own goal, Weah created the USMNT’s game-winner against Costa Rica, helping ease nerves after a loss to Panama.
“At the beginning, it was a bit shaky because obviously we’re all young with not a lot of experience, so it took time,” Weah says, “but I feel like we’re getting the hang of things.
“Obviously CONCACAF, it gets difficult when you go away. But, to be honest, I feel like the football that we’re playing now is great to watch. It’s exciting, so we just have to continue down this path, continue working hard and, pushing and getting results and hopefully, at the end of all this we can qualify for a World Cup.”
A spot at Qatar 2022 would be another milestone for the 21-year-old winger, one that even his father never accomplished during his decorated career with Liberia. It would be another dream come true for Weah, who has already realized a few of them over the last few years.
Playing at PSG, earning a spot with the USMNT, winning the title with Lille – all big accomplishments for a player that is still learning about himself on and off the field.
Weah’s story is currently being written. It’s a story of soccer success, off-field pressures and long nights buried in the notepad of his sound-proof studio.
But that story is Weah’s to mold, to direct, to shape into something he can call his own.
“People tend to look at your Instagram and look at you on TV and think they know your personality, but a lot of people don’t really know,” he says. “I’m just a low-key guy, just like any other person just fighting for what they want.
“Obviously, my dad played professional football but I don’t want people to think that I’m doing this because my parents made me do this. I’m doing it because I want it, because it’s been my dream, just like it is for so many people in the world. Whoever loves football, it’s their dream to go professional.
“It’s my dream as well but I’m just a low-key guy who just really wants it, who really wants to make it like everyone else. And that’s pretty much it.”
Timothy Weah is an ambassador for STATSports, one of the world leaders in GPS sports technology. Their Apex Athlete Series is available for athletes at every level from www.STATSports.com