With four goals already in the first four league games, Liverpool’s early season star has been Sadio Mané. After a season that saw most of the attacking headlines go to Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, Mané has been the one leading the way so far in 2018-19.
As has become typical with Mané since he joined Liverpool, though, the attacker is quick to turn the focus to the team and attack as a whole when asked about his individual exploits, pointing to both Salah and Firmino as key to both Liverpool and his success.
“Lots of people like to talk about me and Salah [and] it’s nice to hear those things, but the strength of this Liverpool team is the collective,” Mane said in an interview with Bleacher Report this week when asked about leading the way so far for Liverpool this season.
“You also can’t forget that there’s a guy up front called Firmino who works like an animal for us and makes things easier. And the guys behind us do some extraordinary work. We try to benefit from that and help the team—it’s all about making and scoring goals for the team.”
Individual accolades seem less important to Mané than the team’s success, and the player says his biggest hope is that people back in Senegal will look to him and be inspired in their own lives—especially youngsters growing up dreaming of one day making it in football.
Mané’s successes on the pitch aren’t in the goals but in what those goals can help the team to achieve, and in the larger picture the success in that is in what good he can do—and in making his family and friends proud of what he’s managed in his career.
“It’s one of my main objectives,” said Mane of his efforts to use his platform to influence people back home in Senegal. “There are lots of projects under way. With time, I think those projects will take shape, and, in the future, there will be other Sadio Manes.
“I was born in a village where there had never been a footballer who’d made it in the major championships. I remember that when I was little, my parents felt that I should study to become a teacher. They thought football was a waste of time and I’d never succeed.
“So they were against the idea, and they never believed it, right up until the day when I signed my first professional contract. For them, it wasn’t possible. They weren’t exactly wrong because it really wasn’t straightforward, but I wanted to realise my dream.
“I gave it everything. It got to the point where they didn’t really have a choice, so they started helping me, and it worked. Today, they’re all proud.”