‘I left without telling anyone, apart from my best friend’: Liverpool star Sadio Mane reveals the struggle it took to become a professional footballer
- Liverpool’s Sadio Mane is now one of the most feared forwards in world football
- The Senegal striker finished joint top scorer in the Premier League last season
- Growing up in Dakar, things were not easy for Mane and sacrifices had to occur
- Mane has revealed his struggle, including how he had to lie to his parents
Liverpool star Sadio Mane currently stands as one of the most feared forwards in world football, and has been linked repeatedly with Real Madrid.
The Senegal captain has risen in status season upon season, and finished the most recent campaign as joint recipient of the Premier League Golden Boot after outscoring his elite-level peers.
But the journey was never simple for the 27-year-old, and now Mane has revealed the sacrifices he had to make in order to risk it all and realise his dream of becoming a professional football player.
The road to becoming a professional footballer was wrought with risks for Sadio Mane
Speaking recently to Football France ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations, Mane recounted how tough choices had to be made and lies had to be told. After planning how he would leave his home village on his quest to become a professional, the striker left after confiding in just one person.
‘I prepared everything down to the minute, knowing that I did not have any money at all.’ said Mane.
After making sacrifices and telling some lies, Mane’s dream began to gather pace at Salzburg
‘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.
‘There, I was welcomed by a family who I did not know. I immediately took part in training sessions at recognised teams. But my parents were looking for me everywhere.
They were convinced that my best friend knew where I was. He held on, he did not say anything. But my family and his, they put terrible pressure on him, and he eventually gave me up.’
His journey has seen him establish himself as an elite forward and Champions League winner
At this point Mane was determined to come good on the promise he made to himself to succeed in football, and admits he felt shame at the prospect of turning back.
‘My parents then called me to demand that I return home. I did not want to because I was ashamed to come back but I ended up agreeing on the condition that they would let me try my luck (at football) once the school year was over.’
‘There were 200 or 300 youngsters who were waiting in line for their chance, it started badly for me because when I presented myself, I was laughed at [because] 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.’
Mane is now hoping to guide Senegal to glory at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt
Mane went on to make the grade in his homeland because being quickly spotted on the continent, being picked up by FC Metz in France before making the grade at Red Bull Salzburg.
His journey then gathered pace with a Premier League switch to Southampton, before he was snapped up by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool for £34million in June 2016.