- The defender revealed a phone call with Mane swayed his decision
- France U23 international switched to Senegal in June
- Niakhate received first Teranga Lions call-up this month
WHAT HAPPENED? Nottingham Forest defender Moussa Niakhate has credited Sadio Mane for his decision to switch allegiance from France to Senegal.
France U-23 international Niakhate is of Senegalese descent and made a decision to represent the Teranga Lions in June, but this would not have been the case had he not received a call from the Bayern Munich superstar.
WHAT THEY SAID: “[Mane] asked me if I intended to play for Senegal, if I had the motivation to play for the Teranga Lions. Of course, I told him what was on my mind and he received it very well, he was very happy. Behind, he spoke to the coach about it,” the former Mainz centre-back told L’Equipe.
"When Sadio came to see me and said 'Moussa, I would like you to come and help us because we have big goals', I was surprised. It shows the person he is. I don't think I need to praise him more yet, we all know him. The fact that Sadio Mane is asking for you to help the people is obviously a defining moment in my life.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: The 26-year-old received his maiden call-up to the Senegal squad when coach Aliou Cisse named him in the Teranga Lions team for friendly matches against Bolivia and Iran this month.
WHAT NEXT FOR NIAKHATE? He will hope to line up alongside Mane as the African champions take on the South Americans at the Stade de la Source in Orleans on Saturday.