Euro 2020 Special

Premier League: Senegal Star Lights Up the League

He is Senegal’s favourite son.

A Premier League player who has become a footballing star, creating Premier League highlights galore.

To such an extent that there is now speculation that two of the most famous clubs on the planet, Real Madrid and Barcelona, are prepared to break the bank to test Liverpool’s resolve.

Yet this is no ordinary footballer. This is a player who has gotten better and better but remained true to his roots.

He was already fast catching the eye before he scored the Premier League’s fastest ever hat-trick in 2015 when donning the colours of Southampton.

It was to be another year before Liverpool parted company with £34-million to pry him away from the south coast and in this inflated market, the fee has proved nothing short of a bargain.

That has continued this term as the 27-year-old winger has enjoyed another standout campaign with 18 goals and 12 assists which seems likely to earn Liverpool their first league title for three decades – although that is by no means certain given the current unprecedented situation the world is facing.

Talking of which, it appears Mane is a classy an operator off the field as he is on it as shown by this week’s news since he has donated £41,000 to help fight coronavirus in his home country.

His agent revealed that Mane decided to make the donation spontaneously when he saw the evolution of the situation.

As Sane has maintained his position as one of the league’s top performers for the juggernaut from the red half of Merseyside, he must pinch himself as he reflects on the journey that has taken the native of Bambali – a village on the banks of the Casamance river to the king’s throne of African football.

He was well known on the streets of Sedhiou, a remote city in Senegal where he grew up on a diet of football in the dust, a place where he stayed until turning 15 when he made the near 500-mile journey north to Dakar and where his destiny started to take shape.

A player transferred from Metz in France to Red Bull Salzburg in 2012, then the Saints, he is now the fourth-highest scoring African player in Champions League history – not bad considering he has only featured in Europe’s leading club competition for four seasons.

Sadio Mane showing his talents with his Premier League club Liverpool
Liverpool star Sadio Mane in action during a Champions League match this season

Don’t just take my word for it. An upcoming documentary is set to be released later this year, brought to life with animated still drawings of the footballer, telling the story of his journey from Senegal to Anfield.

Created by UK design agency Jump, it tells his ‘rags to riches’ story from a small village to football stardom.

The illustrations include moments such as Mane practising football as a child watching football with his family and standing on a freezing cold pitch when he joined Southampton.

The documentary’s animations are inspired by African drawings, with illustrations first created on an iPad before being coloured and stitched together.

It will make compelling viewing for those particularly with a Senegalese or Liverpool leaning.

That even now, after a year without a break, he guided his country to last summer’s African Cup of Nations final and he still looks razor sharp as a credit to this athlete of power, pace, and precision.

Before the season was halted (possibly temporarily), the African Player of the Year looked lean and mean and a player who could carry the Merseyside club through to securing their holy grail.

But back to the man, he is the local African lad turned star footballer who has remained down to earth.

His actions this week — by urging his Senegalese compatriots to take the virus extremely seriously and also to disinfect their hands to prevent the virus from spreading — is far from the first time he has displayed such generosity and sent funds back to his home country.

Only last year, he financed the construction of a mosque, a hospital, a sports stadium and a school worth around £250,000 in his hometown as a give-back initiative.

He also gave 300 Liverpool shirts to the people of Bamballi for the 2018 Champions League final.

The same year, a video went viral on social media showing the superstar cleaning toilets at a mosque in the city.

Sadio Mane can make things happen with the ball at his feet, a maverick on his day, but he can also make magic off the pitch.

That is a measure of Mane the man and his incredible journey.




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