After a glittering six-year spell, Sadio Mane is waving goodbye to Liverpool for a new challenge at Bayern Munich.
It is the measure of the man that almost every ex-Liverpool pundit and a huge proportion of Liverpool supporters have given their blessing for his departure but beyond the sadness of an impending farewell, is a respect for the man as much as the footballer.
Mane arrived at Anfield from Southampton for £35 million in the summer of 2016 which at the time, raised a few eyebrows but few could have expected the impact the Senegalese international has made at the club.
The forward weighed in with 120 goals in 269 games for Jurgen Klopp’s men and in the process, picked himself up a Champions League and Premier League winners medal.
For different reasons, Mane has impacted the lives of the people in his homeland as he invests much of his earnings back into projects in Senegal to help and inspire the locals.
Mane has never forgotten his roots or his humble beginnings and the investment made to transform his home village of Bambali bears testament to that.
The forward has spent more than £700,000 upgrading the village with new buildings, including a hospital, school, petrol station and a post office.
If that wasn’t enough, Mane has given each family in the village a monthly £60 support package while offering £350 to the best achieving students at Bambali High School.
Furthermore, Mane has provided laptops to the school as well as free sportswear and 4G internet installed for all the children in the village.
Gala Match for the locals
Earlier in June, Mane put on a show for the locals when he and a number of ex-professionals played a gala match on the muddy pitch he grew up playing on.
Among those strutting their stuff for the locals was former Liverpool striker El-Hadji Diouf.
In 2019, a picture surfaced on social media of Mane sporting an iPhone with a crack across the screen. Fans were shocked to see him with the faulty handset but he delivered a typically humble response.
“Why would I want ten Ferraris, 20 diamond watches and two jet planes? What would that do for the world? I starved, I worked in the fields, I played barefoot, and I didn’t go to school. Now I can help people,” he told TeleDakar.
Mane continued: “I prefer to build schools and give poor people food or clothing. I have built schools and a stadium. We provide clothes, shoes, and food for people in extreme poverty.
“In addition, I give 70 euros per month to all people from a very poor Senegalese region in order to contribute 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.”
Friendship with Salah
Mane’s teammate, Mohamed Salah will no doubt feel the weight of his departure with the two forming a deadly partnership for the Reds whilst also developing a friendly rivalry.
The consistent form of both players has served Liverpool well in recent years and has also helped their respective countries reach the top of African football.
Whilst reports have suggested both have been at loggerheads in the past, it appears the truth is quite the opposite with a true bromance having formed between the pair.
Mane and Salah came face to face in February’s Africa Cup of Nations final between Senegal and Egypt but it was Mane who came out on top in a tense penalty shoot-out.
In the aftermath of the final, Mane rushed to console Salah and revealed his words for comfort.
“I told him that he remains a very great player and it’s a pleasure to play for the same club.
“I have so much respect for him and he gave everything for his country.
“I also told him that he still has many things to win, including the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. They have a young team so maybe they will win it one day.”
When both players returned to Liverpool, Mane turned down the opportunity of recognition from the Anfield faithful out of respect for Salah who was still reeling from the defeat.
But the respect between the pair goes both ways and Salah has regularly shown his admiration for the Bayern Munich-bound star, whose new salary in Germany will no doubt fund many more worthy projects.
“Inside the field, all my teammates are my brothers. But behind the scenes, in the streets and home, Sadio Mane is my best friend and brother. We share similarities with our lifestyle, we have the same faith,” he explained.
Salah was also on hand to celebrate when Mane was handed the famous number 10 shirt at Anfield once donned by the likes of Philippe Coutinho, John Barnes and Michael Owen.
He leaves Liverpool with his reputation intact and a lasting legacy of a golden period for the club in which he has played a huge part.
It’s goodbye to one of football’s nice guys. For now.
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