After a successful football calendar year both at home in Senegal and with the European giants, Liverpool, Sadio Mane has earned a seat as one of the greatest African players. He was named African Player of the year 2022 by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Born in Bambali, a Senegalese village 250 miles away from the country’s capital Dakar, at the age of 15, the young Sadio ran away from home to chase a career in football.
His footballing career didn’t kick off until he was 19 with the League 2 side Metz. After a year with the club, he moved to Red Bull Salzburg, where he won the domestic double in the 2013-2014 season. Mane’s performance earned him a club transfer record of £11.8 Million to the Premier League as a Southampton player.
Mane’s time at Southampton was exceptional and filled with memorable moments. He broke the premier league’s record for the fastest hat-trick in 176 seconds in a match against Aston Villa in May 2015. In the two seasons he spent at the club, he made 67 appearances scoring 21 goals. He also helped Southampton secure their best-ever sixth-place finish.
After two seasons at Southampton, Liverpool came knocking. The Senegal international forward signed a five-year contract with the Merseysidefor £30 Million, making him the third most expensive signing for the club at the time. This transfer made Sadio Mane the fourth signing by Jurgen Klopp as he sculpted his perfect Liverpool side.
Sadio Mane, on his Liverpool debut, scored the last goal in a 4-1 win over Arsenal. In 2017, he was part of the PFA Team of the Year after scoring 13 league goals. Also, the Senegal international won the Liverpool’s Player of the Season award. From his first match until now, Mane has scored 90 goals in 196 appearances for the Reds. Mane has been instrumental in the team winning the Premier League, FA Cup, EFL Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. The 2018-2019 season saw him win the Premier League Golden Boot. With a trophy cabinet like this, he has carved his name in history books of European football.
Jurgen Klopp, in an interview, said this about Mane “The quality of Sadio we don’t really have to talk about. Because it’s absolutely incredible… “
But the Senegalese legacy doesn’t start and end with club football. Mane has been instrumental in Senegal’s success on the international stage. He made his first international appearance in the 2012 Olympics, where Senegal crashed out of the competition in the quarter-finals due to a 4-2 defeat to Mexico. In 2019, Mane won the African player of the year award. In 2022, Senegal won their first-ever African Cup of Nations (AFCON) after defeating Egypt in a penalty shootout where he scored the deciding freekick.
Mane’s role in Senegal’s success at AFCON earned him player of the tournament. Both teams met during the third round of the 2022 World Cup qualifications. Mane scored the winning kick in the penalty shootout against Egypt, sending Senegal to the world cup in Qatar.
Beyond football, Sadio Mane goes above and beyond to see that people in his home country live comfortable lives through his multiple philanthropic activities. In 2019, he donated £250,000 for a new secondary school in Bambali. Also, Mané gave £41,000 to Senegal’s national committee battling Covid at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. After losing his father as a little boy due to a lack of health services, Mane donated £500,000 to build a hospital built in his home village of Bambali.
SadioMané is a legend for both club and country, and with his contract with Liverpool expiring in 2023, it’s exciting to see what new feats the Senegalese would conquer.
Caleb Ibejigba is a writer with a keen interest in telling stories that portray the happenings in our society.