In just 160 minutes, Sadio Mané changed the bitterness that caused him to miss a penalty at the start of the final of the African Cup of Nations against Egypt for the eternal happiness of sentencing, also from the 12 steps, Senegal’s first consecration in this competition.
This is how changeable football is. With two almost identical shots (strong right cross) and with almost three hours of difference between one and the other. The first was deflected with a great save by Mohamed Gabaski, one of the stars of the decisive match played in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The second was even more cornered.
With an iron mentality, Mané was unfazed by the great opportunity wasted so early. He turned around and repositioned himself on the field. As if he internally knew that he would have his revenge later. And there he did not fail.
Individually, the balance of the tournament was good for him. Scorer of the only goal for Senegal in the group stage (in the seventh minute of extra time he scored the agonizing 1-0 penalty against Zimbabwe in his debut), he suffered with his teammates in the apathetic 0-0 against Guinea and Malawi. With 5 points, it was enough for him to win the disputed group B.
Already in the round of 16, it was the striker from Liverpool who also opened the account in the 2-0 win over Cape Verde. And the one that sentenced the 3 to 1 over Burkina Faso, which put those led by Aliou Cissé in the final yesterday.
A miraculous story
“I was born in a small town in Senegal called Bambali. He was considered the best player in town, but no one in my family wanted him to be a footballer. And I was totally convinced that when he left I could be. The only thing that worried me was how”, confesses Mané in the promotional clip of the documentary ‘Made in Senegal’. And although absolutely all his good childhood memories are related to football, there was one specific event that marked his destiny forever.
When he was 10 years old, the selection of his The country made history at the World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea in 2002. In the opening match, Senegal defeated reigning world champions France 1-0. Papa Bouba Diop’s goal and the team’s subsequent great campaign (they fell 1-0 to Turkey, in the quarterfinals) showed him that despite the dramatic poverty with which he lived, a better future was possible just by proposing it. br>
(Be sure to read: Ajax director resigns for ‘inappropriate comments to colleagues’).
“It was after that World Cup that I decided to be better and better. But my family had other plans for me. Only when everything in my life revolved around football did I begin to convince them to let me go to Dakar, the capital of my country. My parents never had money to send me to school.” Therefore, every day he played ball with friends.
“I saw boys playing and I joined them in their matches. When I grew up, I went to the court. Especially when the national team was playing. I wanted to see my heroes and imagine myself as them,” he shared. And he acknowledged: “When I was young, I only thought about playing in the Premier League, which I watched on television. That was my big dream”, added the footballer.
Mané was able to continue his life sunk in absolute poverty, and only played football for love of the ball . But a miracle happened: a delegation from Metz went to Dakar to recruit the most skilled players. Sadio went to try on, without telling anyone in his family. When coach Olivier Perrin saw him play, he was amazed. He had a pair of boots in terrible condition and a pair of shorts that weren’t even for football. The scout was about to prevent him from playing in those conditions. But he finally put it on the court. A few minutes later he told her: “You stay. You’re going to play on my team.”.
The path as a professional
They asked him to attend an academy called Generation Foot for two seasons. There he scored 131 goals in 90 games . That was the springboard to Metz, where he traveled without telling his family. One day in 2011, mom Satou received a curious call. “Hello mommy. I am in France. I’m going to play for Metz. If you don’t believe me, you can turn on the television and watch me”.
The following season he emigrated to Red Bull Salzburg, where in his second season he scored 23 goals and scored a brace: Bundesliga champion Austrian Cup and the 2013/14 Austrian Cup. In total there were 45 conquests in 87 games.
His explosive speed called the attention of an ideal football for his conditions: the Premier League. He signed for Southampton. And a year later he rewrote the books: on May 16, 2015 he scored the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history against Aston Villa. It was three goals in 176 seconds. The match ended 6 to 1.
Liverpool set their sights on the Senegalese. And he acquired it in 2016, in exchange for 41,000,000 euros. Until today he has converted 107 goals in 244 official games with the Reds. He suffered from the inside the 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid, in the 2017/2018 Champions League final. It was the night in which the German goalkeeper Loris Karius gave away two goals.
Zinedine Zidane, the same one who suffered that humiliating defeat against Senegal in the 2002 World Cup on the field of play, He had been following him and was delighted with his performance in that match played in Kiev. There were even polls to add him to the merengue team. But soon Zizou slammed the door and everything dissolved… At least for now. Before the pandemic he was valued at 150 million euros.
A practicing Muslim, shortly after that meeting a recording made of him while he was cleaning the bathrooms of a mosque went viral. His humble and supportive gesture earned him the respect and praise of millions throughout the planet.
The following year he had his personal revenge. Liverpool was proclaimed champion of the Champions League, the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup. 2019 could have been the best year of his professional life. However, the defeat against Algeria in the final of the African Cup of Nations was a thorn that stuck very deep and it was only yesterday that he managed to remove it.
The future of Mané
On April 10, Sadio Mané will turn 30 years old . They say that the changes of decades generate great changes in people. That balances are made for what has been done and new challenges are projected for what is to come.
Maybe, just maybe, for the Liverpool striker the next goal is to lead his team to Qatar 2022 and play his second consecutive World Cup.
For that, he must win heads-up (first leg on February 23, second leg on February 29, at home) against… Egypt. Although it can also happen that the coin in the air takes a turn and those who celebrate today end the month with a grimace of frustration.