AUSTIN, Texas — Like many other soccer players, Tim Weah has been waiting and hoping to play at a World Cup.

But unlike a lot of other players — and certainly unlike anyone else on the U.S. men’s team — the soccer gods have been waiting for Weah to enter that World Cup stage even more.

The 22-year-old, New York-born winger isn’t just one of the Americans’ most dynamic players, electric on the field and fashionable off it. He’s the son of an all-time soccer legend, George Weah.

In his prime with Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, George Weah was one of the world’s most prolific and popular strikers. He won the sport’s most prestigious prizes, the Ballon D’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year, in 1995.

After his playing days ended, he entered politics, and was elected president of his native Liberia in 2018.

But for all George has done, there’s one big thing he hasn’t.

“He never got the chance to play in a World Cup, which is very unfortunate,” Tim said, “but he has a chance to live that dream through me.”

George has been to World Cups, for sure. Tim attended the 2010 tournament’s championship game in South Africa with his father, who was working for FIFA at the time.

“Seeing that as a 10-year-old is amazing, and it just made me want to dream,” Tim said.

Now the dream is on the cusp of coming true for Tim, George, and the whole family.

» READ MORE: USMNT rising star Yunus Musah always brings a smile, and a lot of skill when he plays

“As a father, it’s great to see your son potentially be on such a big stage — and in football, it’s huge,” Tim Weah said. “He’s happy; the whole family’s happy, and hopefully I can make my whole family proud.”

A New York groove

The Weah family has strong roots in New York. George and his wife, Clar, lived there for some years. Tim, the youngest of three siblings, spent time as a young child in Brooklyn, Long Island, and for a spell in south Florida.

Tim played youth soccer for one of New York’s most famous clubs, Blau Weiss Gottschee. Then he spent one season with the New York Red Bulls’ academy, where he was teammates with fellow future U.S. star Tyler Adams. (And at one point, he considered joining the Union’s academy.)

In 2014, Weah moved to France to join Paris Saint-Germain’s youth system. It did not happen quietly, because it could not have. Although it has been nearly 20 years since George hung up his cleats, he remains a household name among Parisian soccer fans.

When Weah turned pro in 2017 as a 17-year-old, the hype machine left the station. Here was a potential American soccer star in one of the world’s most famous cities, part of a team stacked with big-name players thanks to its Qatari ownership.

And there was never any question about his international allegiance. Weah started playing for the United States with the under-15 youth national team, and he is as proud a New Yorker as any.

“I knew I was always going to play for the U.S., it was just about getting here and finding a spot here,” he said. “I couldn’t see myself on any other national team.”

» READ MORE: Christian Pulisic’s mind is in a good place with the U.S. men’s soccer team, and so are his feet

Into the headlines

After a breakout performance at the 2017 under-17 World Cup, Weah made his senior U.S. debut in March 2018. He helped launch the generational overhaul that followed the failure to qualify for that year’s World Cup.

Two months later, Weah scored his first senior U.S. goal at Subaru Park.

To a certain extent, that stack of big-name players in Paris ended up stunting Weah’s growth, especially when the club signed superstars Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. When Weah went on loan to Scotland’s Celtic in early 2019, he hoped it wouldn’t be an omen, but it proved to be. That summer, PSG sold him to Lille for $11 million.

Life at Lille hasn’t been perfect either, in part because of two hamstring tears. But it’s been a lot better in terms of playing opportunities. Weah won a French league title in 2021 and played in the Champions League this season. Along the way, he played in nine World Cup qualifiers, scoring a terrific individual goal in a 1-1 tie at Jamaica.

Last week, Weah hit the highlight reels again with a 20-yard blast in the 3-0 win over Morocco, on a night when he played all 90 minutes and was one of the Americans’ top players.

That was the latest sign that Weah is healthy and in good form. If he can keep up both, he is a lock for the World Cup team.

» READ MORE: Malik Tillman speaks softly, but carries a big potential with the U.S. men’s soccer team

And come the fall, the global spotlight on him will become even brighter. American fans can be sure that when the rest of the world’s media prepares its previews of the U.S. team in Qatar, Weah will be featured.

“My goal is just to block out the noise, and do whatever I have to do for the team,” he said. “I just want it to be a great experience for everyone, and that’s pretty much it — it’s not an individual thing, it’s more of a team effort.”

Beneath the on-brand message, though, he knows what’s coming. He has spoken openly for years about the pressure and privilege of carrying his family’s name. Now he is poised to carry it to the place his father never reached.

“It’s something that’s been on my mind since I was in U-13s, you know, qualifying for a World Cup,” he said, “and it’s finally here.”

» READ MORE: U.S. men’s and women’s soccer players celebrate equal pay and labor peace