‘Sadio Mané: Made In Senegal’ Documentary Looks Incredible
Over the course of the last four years, Sadio Mané has become world-renowned while shining for Liverpool. He’s now a two-time PFA Team of the Year selection, a Premier League Golden Boot recipient, the 2019 African Footballer of the Year and a UEFA Champions League winner.
If you ask Lionel Messi who the best player on the planet was last year, he’ll tell you it was Mané.
But before the 27-year-old’s big transfer to Liverpool, his scintillating two years with Southampton, his breakthrough with Red Bull Salzburg or his first professional appearances with Metz, Mané’s career was forged in Senegal.
He was born in the town of Sédhiou, with a population of just over 24,000. Sédhiou is where the Liverpool star first crafted his game.
“Since I was two or three years old, I remember always being with the ball,” says Mané. “I would see kids playing on the street, and would join them. That is how I started — just on the roads.”
At 15, he made a 500-mile journey to Dakar with his uncle in order to trial for the Génération Foot academy.
“We went to them and there were lots of boys being tested and getting organized into teams,” recalls Mané. “I will never forget this, and it is funny now, but when I went to try out there was an older man that looked at me like I was in the wrong place. He asked me ‘Are you here for the test?’ I said I was. He asked me, ‘with those boots? Look at them. How can you play in them?’ They were bad, really bad — torn and old. Then he said, ‘And with those shorts? You don’t even have proper football shorts?’
“I told him what I came with was the best I had, and I only wanted to play — to show myself. When I got on the pitch, you could see the surprise on his face. He came to me and said ‘I’m picking you straight away. You’ll play in my team.’ After those trials, I went to the academy.”
Despite his parents’ initial hesitancy — they wanted different things for Sadio — he eventually left for Senegal’s capital to live with a family he didn’t know.
“I was so young and it wasn’t easy at all to leave what I knew,” says Mané. “I missed my family so much, missed being with my mom and my sisters. But to be a footballer is all I wanted and I knew these tough days were to help me achieve that. Many, many, many people I grew up with, such skillful players, didn’t have the chance I did to become a professional.
“I knew the things that were hard were important for me to succeed. Now I am here, with no regrets, living my dream.”
Sadio Mané: Made In Senegal will be available for streaming through Rakuten TV’s free Rakuten Stories channel on Wednesday, April 8.