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Afcon 2019 players: Sadio Mane - The Rise Of Series

17:30 IST 14/06/2019
Sadio Mane Liverpool Champions League final 2019
The Senegalese forward has firmly established himself as one of the best players, having hit the net 26 times in the Premier League recently

The 'Afcon Rise of' Series is a collaborative initiative between Goal and 3 Kilo featuring up-and-coming writers. 3 Kilo is a development agency that creates opportunities and skills development projects for the youth of South Africa.

Sadio Mane has been an integral part of his club's success over recent months. Mane recently helped Liverpool reach and clinch the Uefa Champions League title having lost out to Real Madrid in the 2018 final. In arguably what was his best season, yet, in Liverpool colours – finishing as the Premier League Golden Boot award winner, an award he shared alongside two fellow Africans, Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and fellow Reds teammate, Mohamed Salah. 

The trio were all tied with 22 goals for the 2018/2019 season. 


Sadio Mane's early life


Similar to most African sportsmen, Mane’s journey has not been plain sailing by any means. 

His start to life was tough, having to overcome poverty, a major lack of facilities and exposure, and also defying his family's wishes - who had a different opinion regarding his career as a footballer.

In an interview with Oh My Goal, Mane spoke of his upbringing, saying “I was born in a village and into a very religious family.” 

"My father was an imam and even though he himself used to play football, he was very much against the idea of me playing the game and wanted me to pursue a career path in teaching, instead.

“When I was 15, I secretly ran away to go to Dakar [capital of Senegal],” Mane added. 

He knew that he needed to put himself in a position to be noticed and if that meant travelling nearly 400km from his hometown, Bambali, to take part in the trials that were happening in the capital city, he would do so.

In spite of the reluctance he had to deal with from his family, his life was changed forever that day when he took control of his future and forced people to notice his extraordinary talent. 

His commanding performance at the trials earned him the opportunity to join Generation Foot, an academy based in Senegal and without him realising this at the time, it was the first major step of his professional footballing career. 


Sadio Mane's club career  

Generation Foot are partnered with the French side, FC Metz and after one season at the academy, Mane was snapped up by the professional outfit. And within his debut season with the French club, Austrian giants, RB Salzburg signed the then 20-year-old Mane for £3.6 million.

He didn't take long to make his mark in Austria, helping Salzburg to two domestic titles - the Austrian Cup and Bundesliga Championship in his first two seasons at the side.

The lightning-quick winger's fortunes were changed for the best when Southampton signed him on a four-year contract for a fee of £20.7 million towards the end of 2014.

Likewise, he did not take too much time to settle in arguably the ‘best league in the world’, as he engraved his name in the league's history books nine months later, scoring what has been recorded as the quickest hat-trick in the Premier League - 2 minutes and 56 seconds. 

Sadio’s outrageous strength, sheer determination and drive, and his good eye for goal saw him score 22 goals for ‘The Saints’ during his first two seasons there and this welcomed interest from other clubs but it was Liverpool who managed to secure his services for a whopping £37.08 million. 

In another interview with This is Anfield, the -now- Golden Boot winner credited his strong personality for his constant rise and obvious success.

“A good thing for footballers is not to think too much, especially when you’ve got to move to a big team like Liverpool because that’s when you start to confuse your mind.

“In my head, I know I was coming to a team that wanted me, to a manager who knew me well, and I was coming to work hard and to help.

“That is all I was focused on, not how things would go or what could happen – good or bad. I left my mind open and was ready for anything. I’m very happy to be part of a team with big, big talent with everyone working for each other. It makes it easy for a player when you’ve got really good teammates and when everyone wants the same thing.”

This way of thinking has clearly worked out well for him because since joining Liverpool, Mane has had at least 20 goal contributions - across all competitions-  in each of his first three seasons with the Reds.

Mane was named as Liverpool’s Player of the Month for a number of occasions.  


Sadio Mane's international career

He is also the highest scoring Senegalese player in the history of the Premier League and hopes to continue his impeccable goalscoring form when representing his country at the Afcon in Egypt.

Mane played a colossal role at the national level by helping Senegal finish their Afcon qualifying campaign unbeaten.