WHILE Liverpool supporters face an agonising wait until they can finally see the end of their title drought, they can at least brush up on the story of one of the players who has helped get them to within touching distance of English football’s greatest prize.
In Made in Senegal [Rakuten TV], an excellent documentary on Sadio Mane, the striker takes us on his journey from humble beginnings to Champions League winner, from first kicking a ball or grapefruit — footballs were in short supply — in his home village of Bambali to the iconic surroundings of Anfield.
Mane (pictured) explains how he overcame resistance from his family to follow his dream of playing professional football and, with lofty ambitions of becoming as good as his idol, fellow Senegalese star and Reds striker El Hadji Diouf, Mane found himself in France with FC Metz before joining Salzburg, Southampton and finally Liverpool in 2016.
That move was not his first audience with Jurgen Klopp. Their paths had crossed earlier when the German was Borussia Dortmund manager but their first meeting did not quite go as planned as Klopp says: ‘He looked like a rapper. I thought, “I don’t have time for this”.’
Mane has not forgotten his roots. Success has helped him build a school and hospital in his homeland but he is not always popular with fans in Senegal, with many believing he saves his best displays for his club not his country.
This is a heartwarming tale, though, proving that with faith, determination and a fair sprinkling of talent, there is nothing that can’t be achieved. Even, presumably, guiding Liverpool eventually to that long-awaited Premier League crown.