Sadio Mane has revealed he defied the wishes of Liverpool and made an offer to Senegal during the Africa Cup of Nations that would have seen him take full responsibility if he died on the field.
The 30-year-old forward suffered a concussion during the last-16 game against Cape Verde in January, with a collision with Vozinha leading to him leaving the field shortly after scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 victory.
Mane was advised to spend at least five days resting, with his Premier League employers keen to see protocols followed, but a man desperate to lead his nation to glory made it clear to doctors and coaches that he would make the quarter-finals at any cost.
Was Mane prepared to die for Senegal?
Mane told Pro Direct Soccer France of his determination not to miss any matches for Senegal: “When I got injured against Cape Verde and I had concussion, I never talked about it that day.
“Liverpool put pressure on the federation and wrote a letter to FIFA that I needed at least five days rest so that meant I was to miss the quarter-finals.
“Our national team doctor also had to follow those rules. When they told me that, I called the coach and told him ‘The doctor does not want me to play but you have to put me in the starting 11’.
“I called the federation president and told him we need to have a meeting because I have to play. I could give up my life.”
Mane added on eventually lining up against Equatorial Guinea in the last eight: “I said ‘I know I shouldn’t play but let us have a contract. It will be my responsibility, I will sign’.
“If I die, they have to say it is my fault. No one’s fault. They said ‘Sadio, you cannot play’ but I said ‘no, no, it is out of the question’.
“It was around 1am or 2am, everyone panicked and I said ‘coach, I know even you are scared. Just write a letter that says I played voluntarily in case I die or whatever happens’. Everyone was tense.
“I did not sign the paper but they finally said ‘no, no it’s not possible’ but I was ready to do it so the doctor said ‘Okay, let us do a scan in the morning the day of the match’.
“In the morning, we did the scan, we sent it to the Confederation of African Football, they checked with the doctor, there was nothing so the doctor said ‘Okay, you can play’ because to see me sign a paper would be complicated for him as well. Thank God everything went well.”
Did Mane make the right choice?
After being cleared to face Equatorial Guinea, Mane helped Senegal to a 3-1 victory.
They then prevailed by the same score over Burkina Faso in the semi-finals, setting up a date with Egypt tin the final.
It finished goalless after 120 minutes, but Mane held his nerve to convert the decisive shoot-out spot-kick for Senegal, securing them a historic first continental title.