Sadio Mane's career is on the up and up. He was recently named at a ceremony in Hurghada, Egypt as the CAF African Player of the Year for 2019 for the first time, beating his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah into second place, thus reversing the result from the previous two years. Michael Renouf profiles this silken-skilled striker.
Sadio Mane winning the African Footballer of the Year accolade is just reward for the trophy-laden year he enjoyed in 2019 and shows how far he has come since growing up as a little boy in the small Senegalese village of Bambali in the 90s.
Liverpool's number 10 made his league debut for the relatively unknown French side Metz in Ligue 2 in 2012, where he made a handful of appearances before moving to Austria's Red Bull Salzburg later that year.
It was also the year he made his debut for the Senegal national team (against Morocco, also scoring his first international goal in only his second international, a 3-1 victory over Liberia in a World Cup qualifier).
In Austria, he would pick up his first silverware in the professional game, helping his new club in his second season there to a league and cup double, and despite scoring a hat-trick in the semi-final in a 7-0 demolition of Horn, he did not actually play in the final.
While in Austria he scored 31 goals in 63 Bundesliga games, which soon drew the attention of the Premier League, but not one of the big boys--it was Southampton that he put pen to paper for on 1 September 2014. It was 23 September when he played his first game in English football--in an away tie versus Arsenal in the League Cup, in which he helped the south coast club to a 2-1 victory.
Four days later he made his Premier League debut, this time helping the Saints to a 2-1 victory over QPR. It was not long before he scored his first goal for his new employers, netting the only goal of the game in the 25 October home victory over Stoke City in the Premier League.
Whilst plying his trade for one of the Premier League's lesser-known lights, he set a record that may never be beaten, the fastest FPL hat-trick ever. It was 16 May 2015 when Aston Villa travelled south in the penultimate game of the season. Mane would open the scoring in the 13th minute and 2 minutes 56 seconds later, scored his third to put Southampton 3-0 up thanks to some Keystone Cops type defending in a game that would finish 6-1 to the home team.
This record had stood since 1994, when Robbie Fowler put three into the Arsenal net...