Sadio Mane is now a Bayern Munich player and it’s safe to say the Senegal international has come a long way since he ran away from home as a teenager to pursue a career in the sport he loves.
Here, bundesliga.com charts Mane’s remarkable journey out of poverty and to the top of world football after his move to the Bundesliga record champions.
1. His is a true rags-to-riches story
Mane was born in in the Sedhiou village of Bambali, Senegal on 10 April 1992. According to the World Bank, 70 percent of families in the area live in poverty but Mane saw football as a way out. “It was tough because I didn’t have anyone behind me to push me to achieve my dream,” he told The Guardian in a 2020 interview. “But I never stopped dreaming.”
There was also family tragedy at a young age. Mane was just seven when his father – a local imam – died following a battle with illness. The impact was significant. “When I was young my dad was always saying how proud he was of me,” he added. “He was a man with a big heart. When he died, it had a big impact on me and the rest of my family. I said to myself: ‘Now I have to do my best to help my mother.’ That’s a hard thing to deal with when you are so young.”
2. He gives back – in spades
With no hospital in the village, Mane’s father was unable to get the medical attention he needed to save his life. In 2021, Mane remedied this by cutting the ribbon on the first hospital in Bambali, two years after he helped build a new school in his hometown. Both projects came at an estimated cost of more than $1 million, while Mane also donated funds to help fight coronavirus in his home country and to build a mosque in Bambali. He also sent 300 Liverpool shirts back to his village when the side reached the 2018 UEFA Champions League final, and flew 50 Senegal fans to Cameroon for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations semi-final in 2022.
Mane summed up his philanthropy in 2019 by saying: “Why would I want 10 Ferraris, 20 diamond watches, or two planes? I built schools, a stadium, we provide clothes, shoes, food for people who are in extreme poverty. In addition, I give 70 euros per month to all people in a very poor region of Senegal which contributes to their family economy. I do not need to display luxury cars, luxury homes, trips and even planes. I prefer that my people receive a little of what life has given me.”
3. He had to run away to pursue his career
Mane may have been certain that his dream of becoming a professional footballer would one day come true, but his family weren’t so sure. An early ban on him playing the game led to his first departure from the family home but an agreement with his mother meant he could keep playing as long as he returned home and maintained focus on both his academic and religious studies.
There would prove no holding young Mane back and he ran away once again at 15, in cahoots with childhood friend Luc Djiboune. Mane would end up in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, where his life would soon begin to change. In the same Guardian interview, he later reflected: “It was really brave to leave my family in the village and go to Dakar but I knew that I could be successful. After that, my family started to take it more seriously and knew that I didn’t want to do anything else. They knew they had no choice, so they helped me.”
4. Generation Foot found a generational footballer
In Dakar, Mane not only found Generation Foot but also a father figure in Mady Toure, the man behind the academy. Mane describes Toure as being “like a dad to me”, and the relationship is very much reciprocated. “Of course I am very proud of Sadio. But he is not my player – he’s my son,” Toure said in 2015. “I’ve known him since he was a kid so to see him doing so well is fantastic. Today we talk about Messi and Neymar but honestly I don’t think these players are as good as Sadio Mane.”
Thanks to Generation Foot’s partnership with French side Metz – that sees one player move to the club each year – Mane swapped his homeland for France in 2011. By January the following year he made his professional debut against Bastia in Ligue 2 and scored his first goal in a 5-2 defeat to Guingamp. Metz were ultimately relegated that season, and their promising attacker was soon bound for Austria.
Having previously shared a training ground in Salzburg, Sadio Mane (l.) and Marcel Sabitzer (r.) will now be reunited at Bayern’s Säbener Straße facility. – /
5. Familiar faces awaited Mane in Munich
At Salzburg, Mane lined up with a number of current Bundesliga stars. Among them were Eintracht Frankfurt’s Martin Hinteregger, RB Leipzig trio Peter Gulacsi, Kevin Kampl, and Konrad Laimer as well as new Bayern teammate Marcel Sabitzer. Former VfB Stuttgart, Hoffenheim and Leipzig supremo Ralf Rangnick was overseeing the sporting front at the time, while ex-Bayer Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt and recently-departed Borussia Mönchengladbach tactician Adi Hütter were his two bosses.
Bayern’s players will also remember the latest arrival at Säbener Straße for his match-winning performance in Munich in 2019. Mane scored twice as Liverpool claimed a 3-1 victory in their UEFA Champions League last-16 first-leg meeting between the two sides at the Allianz Arena. His opener was a thing of beauty as he swivelled Manuel Neuer and chipped into an empty net. You can be sure that the Bayern captain will be looking to make amends when they first meet on the training ground this summer.
6. He could have joined Borussia Dortmund
Mane could have ended up in Germany a lot earlier than he has done. In 2014, then Dortmund boss Jürgen Klopp had the chance to sign the Senegal international from Salzburg, but an initial meeting met a peculiar end and Mane made the move to Southampton instead.
Mane later joked: “[Klopp] said I was like a rapper! But I think I gave my best so what can I say? That’s part of life – you never know how you are going to get along with people. But I think he was wrong for sure. It was an experience for me as well though. I knew I had to show him more until we met again.”
7. Klopp got his man in 2016
Unfortunately for Saints fans, Mane was always going to move on to bigger and better things. After two years, 25 goals and 14 assists in 75 appearances, Liverpool came calling in 2016. Klopp had finally got his man and the pair went on to make history together as Mane formed a famed front-three alongside ex-Hoffenheim man Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Mane won six trophies with the Anfield outfit, including the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League the following campaign. He was named players’ player and fans’ player of the year in 2017 and was named in the Premier League’s Team of the Season three times in six campaigns as a Liverpool player. To go with that, Mane finished fourth in the 2019 Ballon d’Or, and has placed fifth and fourth in the Best FIFA Men’s Player rankings in 2019 and 2020.
Sadio Mane (l.) and Jürgen Klopp (r.) formed a tight bond at Liverpool but now go their separate ways. – GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP via Getty Images
8. The GOAT of African football?
Mane’s heroics have not been limited to domestic football and he is regarded as one of Africa’s greatest sporting products. His 32 goals for Senegal make him his country’s record goalscorer, while a collection of 90 caps – and counting – place him third on the list for most appearances for the Lions of Teranga.
His legendary status was further boosted with an Africa Cup of Nations Man of the Tournament performance en route to the final in 2019 and going one better in 2022 by striking the winning penalty as Senegal became continental kings for the first time. It was a dream come true for Mane. “It’s the best day of my life and the best trophy of my life,” he said after leading his team to the trophy. “I won the Champions League and some [other] trophies but this is the special one for me. This is more important for me.”
9. A tenth African at Bayern
With Morocco international Noussair Mazraoui also joining the club in 2022, Mane will take the list of African players to play for Bayern to double figures once the pair have taken to the field in red. After his international teammate Bouna Sarr became the first Senegalese player to represent the club, Mane will be the second.
The other seven players in Bayern’s African contingent are Samuel Kuffour, Kwasi Wriedt (Ghana), Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Franck Evina, Louis Ngwat-Mahop (Cameroon), Medhi Benatia (Morocco), and Pablo Thiam (Guinea).
Sadio Mane sent his country wild by striking the winning penalty in the 2022 CAF Africa Cup of Nations final. – /
10. A match made in heaven?
A serial winner for both club and country, Mane joins Bayern draped in silverware. And, considering his new employers have won 10 Bundesliga trophies on the spin, he certainly won’t be out of place when he joins up with the record German champions.
The man with the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history – a two minute and 56 seconds effort for Southampton against Aston Villa in May 2015 – will be in a rush to deliver more success in Bavaria.
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