Champions League and Golden Boot winner Sadio Mané is busy this summer captaining his beloved Senegal as they battle in the African Cup of Nations. In between training for the tournament, he opened up to France Football about his early life growing up poor and trying to make it as a footballer.
“I prepared everything down to the minute, knowing that I did not have any money at all,” Mané said of that fateful day, and translated by the ECHO. ”At sunset, I hid in the tall grass, in front of my house, my sports bag with my things so that I wasn’t surprised when leaving.
”And early the following morning, at around 6am, I brushed my teeth and didn’t even take a shower. I left without telling anyone, apart from my best friend. I walked for a long time to meet up with a friend who loaned me some money so that I could take the bus to Dakar.”
The football trials he attended didn’t go the way that Mané hoped, with people laughing at him.
“It started badly for me because when I presented myself, I was laughed at. I did not look like a footballer. I was wearing pants that looked nothing like football shorts. And my football boots were completely shredded on the sides and had been repaired by me with wire the best I could.”
From those humble beginnings to the pinnacle of football success, it’s clear that Mané is a man with a clear head on his shoulders. He’s well liked by his teammates and respected by fans and pundits alike for his tenacious and technically-gifted playing style. His penchant for a scoring important goals in big games is quickly making him a favorite on Merseyside.
With any luck, we’ll continue to see him win the plaudits and trophies that he deserves with Liverpool.