Tim Weah is skilled enough that he’d be an American soccer phenom no matter his club, and no matter his name. The 18-year-old New York City native is a fast winger with vision and a slick scoring touch.
It so happens, though, that he plays for Paris Saint-Germain — the French club that’s the global standard for new-money soccer. And it so happens that his father is George Weah, the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year.
On top of all that, George is the president of Liberia, where he was born and began his rise to fame.
In reality, these things aren’t just coincidence. George played for PSG from 1992 to 1995, then became an even bigger star when he moved to AC Milan. The fame and wealth he earned as a player gave him the ability to move to America and raise Tim here. And of course, George’s recognition back home had a role in his move to politics.
But Tim has become his own man during the last 12 months. Since breaking out at last year’s FIFA under-17 World Cup, he has made his PSG and U.S. national team senior debuts.
“It’s been insane, to be honest,” Weah said. “Everything is coming really quick, and I’m just taking it day by day, trying to build on my game. … It’s hard, but I’m getting there.”
PSG’s squad includes some of the planet’s most famous players: Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani, France’s Kylian Mbappé and Brazil’s Neymar. Weah knows them all well, especially Cavani, whom he called “like a father figure to me.”
“After training, in the locker room I sit down with Cavani and have a conversation, and he tells me, ‘Tim, you’re doing this right, but you need to do that even better,’ and I really take that to heart,” Weah said. “Neymar is kind of the cool guy, we like to play around – I mess with him, he messes with me. Kylian Mbappé, we’re about the same age, so we try to understand each other. He tells me some stuff because he’s been around the game for a while at the highest level.”
Weah will have a new manager when he returns to Paris. Thomas Tuchel was previously at Borussia Dortmund and helped develop Christian Pulisic.
Asked whether he has talked to Tuchel yet, Weah said, “I haven’t talked to him at all, but I hope when I get back I can have a conversation with him during the preseason, in terms of my future.”
For now, Weah is happy to be with a U.S. team that is full of young prospects.
“Guys like Weston [McKennie], Christian, guys that I’ve watched when I wasn’t with the first team yet,” he said. “I’ve watched [them] on TV, Christian especially with Borussia Dortmund, just making moves … For all of us to be in camp together, it’s a platform to build on.”
Weah is clearly mature, and hungry to learn. But he is still just 18. He offered a reminder of that when asked how his soccer career is affected by his father’s fame.
“I keep that part of my family over there in Liberia, and I just try to do me here,” he said. “My parents, they do all the political stuff, and I’m just chilling, training day by day and living a regular athletic life as a young athlete.”