Sadio Mane: 11 times Liverpool star has proved he's the nicest man in the world

Sadio Mane got the better of Mohamed Salah in the AFCoN final as Senegal triumphed over Egypt on penalties.

The Liverpool stars went head-to-head in the showpiece event in which only one could emerge victorious.

And, after a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes, it was Mane who scored the winning penalty to hand Senegal their first ever Africa Cup of Nations win.

Earlier in the match, Mane had missed a penalty with Salah appearing to have some words of advice for Egypt goalkeeper, Mohamed Abou Gabal, before the kick.

But Mane had the last laugh with the winning penalty. He also picked up the Player of the Tournament award afterwards.

The AFCoN trophy adds to what is already an incredible career for Mane, having won the Premier League, Champions League and Club World Cup for Liverpool.

But not only is Mane a successful footballer, but he’s also shown his human side of things throughout his career.

While N’Golo Kante often claims the ‘most humble footballer in the world’, Mane certainly runs him close and we’ve dug out 11 stories that show Mane might just be the nicest man in the world.

Let’s take a look:

Humble beginnings

While many footballers have a relatively easy passage to professional football, Mane’s was anything but. To even get his first trial, he had to travel 500 miles north of his small village in Senegal to Dakar. While he didn’t look the part, he certainly impressed.

“He [the coach] 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.”

The rest is history.

Donations 

“Why would I want ten Ferraris, 20 diamond watches, or two planes? What will these objects do for me and for the world? I was hungry, and I had to work in the field; I survived hard times, played football barefooted, I did not have an education and many other things, but today with what I earn thanks to football, I can help my people,” Mane once said.

And he’s certainly done that. Here is just a list of a few of the things Mane has done in way of donations

  • Paid to build a hospital, a mosque and a sports stadium in the village he grew up in, while he also donated £250,000 to help build a school
  • Gives each family in his village £70 every month
  • Gave 300 Liverpool shirts to people of Bamballi for the 2018 Champions League final
  • Donated £41,000 to help aid the fight against coronavirus in Senegal

His first photo at Metz

Mane’s first club in Europe was French side, Metz. He wanted to send a photo to his mother and the story behind it is so heartwarming.

“I noticed a funny guy in the team (Sadio) because he took a Japanese-style bow to anyone he met. He said that the scout of FC Metz just found him in some rural area in Senegal, and he really appreciated the chance,” a witness said.

“He saw I got a camera, and he asked me to take a picture of him because he wanted to show his mother.

“I asked him for his email address. He shook his head. He only gave me the address of the club (Metz). At last, he asked ‘It’s free, right?’”

Carrying water bottles

This may seem pretty simple but it sums up Mane’s mentality.

As Mane stepped off the Senegalese coach after arriving at the stadium for a match, he saw his staff struggling with equipment. Many players would have ignored it and just walked into the dressing room to prepare for their game but Mane stopped and picked up two water crates without even thinking about it.

Stopping the bus for a fan

On the Senegal bus again, Mane spotted a lookalike wearing a ‘Mane 10’ Liverpool shirt. He asked security to bring the fan on the bus so he could meet him and they took a few photos together.

Ederson

Mane was sent off for a pretty terrible tackle on Manchester City goalkeeper, Ederson, back in September 2017. He reacted with a social media apology, writing:

“I hope and wish Ederson a quick recovery. I am so sorry he was hurt during our accidental collision on the pitch and am sorry for him that he could not complete the match because of it. I pray he heals fast and is back playing very soon because he is the highest quality player.”

Giving his shirt to a ballboy

Liverpool beat Chelsea in 2019 Super Cup with Mane scoring twice and picking up the Man of the Match award. After the match, he surprised a ball boy by calling him over and giving him his match-worn shirt. A small gesture but one that would have meant the world to the ballboy.

Cleaning toilets at a mosque after Liverpool away match

Back in September 2018, Mane scored during Liverpool’s 2-1 away win against Leicester. Hours later, he was back in Liverpool and was seen helping to clean the toilets at his local mosque.

“Sadio requested that no video was sent out. He wanted to remain discreet and wasn’t doing it for publicity,” a mosque worker told the BBC.

“He comes to the mosque often. At his house he has a Bentley – but he comes to us in a not-so-fancy car, so he is incognito.

“He’s not a person looking for fanfare. There’s no arrogance.”

A video did emerge…

Telling Troy Deeney to look after Ismaila Sarr

Sarr was part of Senegal’s ACFoN-winning side but he made a slow start to life in England after signing for Watford in 2019. That was despite all the help Mane was giving him.

“Sadio is talking to me all the time. He advises me to do this, do that. He is a big brother for me,” Sarr told BBC Sport.

“When I arrived, he sent messages saying ‘welcome to the Premier League, welcome to England’ and we also talk when we are in the national team.

“He gives me tips, I try to execute them and to implement them. ‘If you don’t play, be calm, carry on, do your job, it will be OK,’ that is what he says. So I try to do the same.”

After Liverpool beat Watford 3-0 at Anfield in the 2019/20 season, Mane told Deeney to take care of “my boy” in the tunnel.

He probably regrets that after Sarr scored twice to consign Liverpool to their first loss of the season a few months later.

Plays down his role in interviews

While Mane is one of Liverpool’s star players, he rarely steals the headlines. Instead, he more than happy praising his teammates, according to BBC Radio Merseyside’s Mike Hughes.

“After a match, I try to get him to describe how big a part he’s played, but he is always eager to play down his role and bump up everyone else in the team,” Mike Hughes said in 2018. “That just shows the character of the man.”

Celebrating a goal for a fan’s grandad

In 2020, Mane spoke to charity volunteer Lee, who is a big Liverpool fan. Given his reputation for copying celebrations, Lee asked Mane if he would do one for his grandad who had recently passed away. Lee showed Mane what he’d like him to do. And while he had to wait a number of weeks to score, Mane did that exact celebration when he scored against Crystal Palace.

We’re not crying…

Holding a baby in Asda

Okay, this doesn’t quite compare to paying to build a hospital, a mosque, a sports stadium or a school but there’s something about this picture that just shows Mane’s humility.

Firstly, going to a supermarket in traditional dress deserve credit. But to then happily hold a baby and pose for a photo is just brilliant.

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