This is a story about a great and not very typical football player, but also an even better man. Sadio Mane is a name that all football fans, even “recreational” ones, have surely heard of. The Liverpool ace entered the legend a little less than three months ago after bringing Senegal their first title in the African Cup of Nations! The Senegalese had great teams and individuals, but they have been waiting for 65 years for that first title, which was brought to them by the hero of our story with a decisive penalty.
He played football only when there was no work, and since he did not have the money for the ball, he often changed the ball with a round fruit or a lump of hard earth. The reality hit him hard all his life – from the moment his uncle explained that he had no money to buy him football boots and pay for training, because they would have to work for almost a week in the field, to a tragedy that changed him forever:
Mane’s Father passing away:
“I had seven years. I remember that day and today, crystal clear. I wanted to go outside and play with other children because the neighbor got the ball. Then one of my relatives approached me and said that my father had died” – Mane revealed in a film about himself.
There was no hospital in Bambali, so the father had to be taken to the neighboring village to save his life. But that didn’t happen. My sister was born in the house because there was also no hospital in our village. Even then, I knew that I had to leave, as I know and can – said Mane. The tragedy strengthened him at the same time, so he did not give up on his dream of becoming a football player.
Mane’s first time going to a training:
We went to rehearsal, there were a lot of boys. It’s funny to me now, but I’ll never forget how an older man looked at me like I was in the wrong place. He asked me why I was here, when I answered him, he said: ‘With those football boots? How can you play in them at all? Just look at them. ‘ And they were bad, really bad. Torn and old. I didn’t even have the shorts I needed. I told him that I came in the best I had and that I just wanted to play, to show myself – Mane remembers. If you thought this was another sad line from the life of a fast-footed Senegalese, you are mistaken. It was one of the better decisions in Mane’s childhood, going to that rehearsal.
Mane pursues his football career:
However, the family relented after seeing that Sadio would continue to follow his dream with or without their blessing. He had plenty of talent. That’s what happened. At the age of 15, he left home and went to Dakar. The road took him to France four years later, after he was “dug up” by one of the many scouts from the “land of roosters”. At the age of 19, he played for Metz and immediately showed great talent, which alarmed other European clubs. Salzburg was the fastest, so the Senegalese moved to the “Red Bull Talent Factory”, where he exploded!
Mane’s move to the Premier League:
After two brilliant seasons, the call of the Premier League followed, which is not rejected. He replaced cool Austria with the warm south of England, where he wore the red and white jersey of Southampton. Goal after goal, indescribable hunger for victories, and fantastic physical fitness were the “magic formula” for moving to Liverpool in 2016 for 40 million pounds. Mane’s transfer to “Anfield” also marked a new, spectacular era for Liverpool, which is raging in European and world football, and the axis is Mane, his rival from the final Salah, and the phenomenal German on the bench – Jurgen Klopp. The humble Senegalese then finally realized his dream, the same one he had dreamed of every night in Bambali, tired of working in the fields.
Mane’s Charity Work:
Unlike most of the world’s stars, who do not hesitate to spend all their money on glittering luxury, from “Bugatti” to diamond watches, Sadio Mane is the complete opposite. The Senegalese earns about 110,000 euros a week, but instead of spending on expensive cars and houses, he spends his money on something much more valuable.
The first thing he did was to finance the construction of a hospital in his native Bambali. Every month, he gives 70 euros to each inhabitant of his home village, in order to help them have a more or less decent life.
Don’t be fooled by the figure, in an African village 70 euros is worth more than you think. He also built a school in his native village.
Mane volunteers at the Liverpool Mosque every weekend, where he cleans toilets and helps the local imam. Money does not impress him except as a means to help people.
The famous photo of him wearing a three-year-old phone with a completely broken screen is still being retold.
“Why would I want 10 Ferraris, 20 diamond watches, and two airplanes? To whom would this mean, and how would this help the world? What I have earned is an opportunity to help people. Instead of spending money on things I don’t need, I build schools, buy food and clothes for the poor, for those who were unlucky like me” – says the Liverpool footballer, the immortal legend of Senegal and the new football king of Africa.