• Publish Date: Sep 2 2018 10:56PM
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  • Updated Date: Sep 2 2018 10:56PM

If you are a soccer buff, may be you have heard of George Weah. Like Imran Khan, he is an athlete-turned-politician who has reached the highest seat of power in his country in the year 2018. While Waeh was chosen to become the 25th President of Liberia, Imran Khan has taken oath as 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan.

It is true that some of the greatest as well as mediocre sportsmen have ventured into the political arena, but most of them have played average political innings.

Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu is performing better as a TV artist than a politician. Similarly, neither Kirti Azad nor Mohammad Azharuddin have ever been successful politicians even though both tried their muscle in the political battleground. Same has been the case of ChetanChauhaan.

Around the globe, former world number one Garry Kasparov who topped the chess players ranking from 1986 to 2005, stepped into the world of politics after his retirement from chess in 2005,  created the United Civil Front, a social movement whose main goal is to “work to preserve electoral democracy in Russia”. Garry once even announced to compete in the presidential election against Putin but had to withdraw from the competition due to some technical terms and conditions needed to be obeyed for competing in the elections. Member of the 1994 soccer world cup winning team, Romario is currently acting as a senator in Brazil.

Austrian bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Terminator - who ruled English movie industry with many power-packed performances in the 90s era, served as the 38th Governor of California, USA from 2003 to 2011. Perhaps he would never aspire to become the President of the United States (I am guessing it).

Barring Imran and George, almost all the athletes turned politicians have been  average politicians. Those who made it to the top on political front were not world class, like Idi Amin, Ugandan president (1971-1979) held the title of Ugandan Light Heavyweight Champion between 1951 and 1960.

Albeit contrasting family backgrounds, both Imran and George have proved to be exceptional both as players as well as politicians.

As a player Weah has scored 193 goals in 411 appearances for 12 different clubs between 1985 to 2003. For his national team, Weah has scored 22 goals in 60 appearances representing Liberia. One of the all-time greatest footballers of Africa, Weah rose from a humble slum background to play for some of the best clubs in France, Italy and England including Monaco, Paris Saint Germain, Milan, Chelsea etc. during his 14-year professional football career in Europe. During his footballing career, George collected many coveted accolades including FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or in a single year(1995) becoming the first and to date only African player to win these awards. In 1989, 1994 and 1995, he was also named the African Footballer of the Year, and in 1996, he was named African Player of the Century. Known for his acceleration, speed, and dribbling ability, in addition to his goalscoring and finishing, Weah was described by FIFA as “the precursor of the multi-functional strikers of today”. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players.

Wisden Cricketer Of the Year (1983) Imran Khan is Oxford-read in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Imran is regarded as the greatest cricketer to emerge from Pakistan, and arguably the world’s second-best all-rounder after Garry Sobers.

Count his accolades during his cricketing career, besides Wisden, the list is quite long. To mention a few, Imran was awarded Pakistan’s  president’s Pride of Performance award in 1983. Also, for captaining  Pakistan’s  1992 maiden world cup winning team, Imran was awarded the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian award and honour bestowed by the Government of Pakistan. In 2009, Imran Khan was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame. Khan is also featured in the University of Oxford’s Hall of Fame and has been an honorary fellow of Oxford’s Keble College.

But surely all this has not come free. Imran Khan’s excellence as a cricketer can be measured from his record as an all-rounder in cricket’s longest format. In 88 Test matches, Khan as a bowler took 362 wickets which made him the first Pakistani and world’s fourth bowler to do so. He has also scored 3807 runs in 126 innings at an average of 37.69, including six centuries and 18 fifties. He is in fact one of only eight cricketers to have achieved the double of 3000 runs and 300 wickets in Test cricket. He reached the milestone in 75 Tests, which is the second fastest behind Ian Botham’s record of 72 matches. His highest score was 136 runs.

In ODIs, he played 175 matches and scored 3709 runs at an average of 33.41. His highest score remains 102 not out. His best ODI bowling is documented at 6 wickets for 14 runs, a record for the best bowling figures by any bowler in an ODI innings in a losing cause.

To summarize, if Weah is the first ever footballer of the year to be chosen as the President, Imran is the first international cricketer to have risen to the seat of the Prime Minister. If Weah was a devoted humanitarian for his war-torn country having acted as UN Goodwill Ambassador, Imran has been an active philanthropist helping build advanced medical and educational facilities in his country. If Weah is attributed to be Africa’s best ever striker, Imran has the distinction of being described as the second greatest all-rounder of all times.

What footballer George Weah has achieved in life is fairly reflecting in the achievements of cricketer Imran Khan.

Imran is Weah of cricket.

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