Sadio Mane wasn’t allowed to play football but Liverpool forward followed his dream and could now join Mohamed Salah and Didier Drogba in Premier League ‘100 club’ and become only third African player to do so

Sadio Mane is on the verge of becoming only the third African player to score 100 Premier League goals.

He is currently one goal short of reaching the landmark and has the opportunity to do it when Liverpool travel to Vicarage Road to face Watford this Saturday lunchtime.

Salah and Mane are Liverpool’s main source of goals and the latter could join his teammate in the ‘100 club’

The Senegal forward will be following the footsteps of Chelsea legend Didier Drogba and Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah to join the ‘100 club’.

Mane joined Liverpool five years ago from Southampton for £30m and it was made clear he would be a key part of manager Jurgen Klopp’s big project to bring the glory days back at Anfield.

The 29-year-old was accustomed to the Premier League having spent two seasons with the Saints and he wasted no time by hitting the ground running in his Reds’ career – scoring a solo goal in a 4-3 opening day victory against Arsenal at the Emirates.

This is a familiar sight to the Anfield faithful
Getty Images

His Anfield career started to blossom. He became renowned for his dynamic work ethnic by having the ability to dribble the ball and terrorise defenders as a natural winger.

He formed a great partnership with Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, helping the club secure their place back in the Champions League.

The arrival of Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in 2017 followed by Virgil van Dijk and Alisson in 2018 established Liverpool as a formidable force both domestically and in Europe, with Mane’s performances elevating him to another level he would never have imagined.

With his goal scoring prowess he maintained his status as one of the best attacking players in world football.

The new Cristiano Ronaldo

Mane netted 68 times between the 2017/18 to 2019/20 campaigns and demonstrated his ability to score a wide variety of goals.

Supporters have witnessed a player smelling danger in the right places, glittering speed and technique to create chances for teammates. Here was the complete player.

Those qualities and abilities has seen him score unforgettable goals including against Bayern Munich, on the road to winning the Champions League in 2019 by beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in Madrid, and a brace in the Super Cup before winning on penalty shootout against Chelsea.

Mane was key to Liverpool winning the Champions League
Getty Images – Getty

Even former Manchester United player Daley Blind labelled him as the ‘new Cristiano Ronaldo’ when he was under a rich vein of form.

Blind told the Mirror: “As an attacking player he is absolutely fantastic. I can go through all his qualities – and he is superb in every aspect. He can score with his left foot, right foot and with sensational headers.

“He can give brilliant assists, he is an incredible athlete, and I could go on even more. Mane is the super modern player. If you look at his skills, that is one great thing, but he is able to combine that with astonishing sprints right throughout the game.

“That requires so much power. You have to be incredibly strong both physically and mentally. Sadio has it all. I don’t compare Mane to [Lionel] Messi. I think Sadio is much more like Cristiano Ronaldo in his very best years.”

Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Ors and Blind would have Mane up there collecting the coveted golden ball
getty images

He also went on to win the Club World Cup in December 2019 and scored some crucial winning goals – most noticeably nodding a vital header in a 2-1 win against Aston Villa or another sublime finish in the 5-2 Merseyside derby victory that will live long in the memory, eventually ending Liverpool’s 30-year wait for a league title.

‘World class’

Former Reds’ legend Jamie Carragher hailed Mane as a ‘world-class winger’ and firmly believes Mane will emulate John Barnes as one of the best left-sided players in the history of Liverpool football club.

Carragher told Sky Sports and said: “I think Mane is one of the best left sided attacking players in world football. I love him.

‘He’s the first big signing for Jurgen Klopp and that got Liverpool into the Champions League in Klopp’s first season. He’s been a constant and he’s an absolute superstar.

“We loved John Barnes and he has always been in Liverpool’s best ever XI, wide left. I think when Mane finishes he’s going to be really pushing John Barnes for that position.”

Mane didn’t have the greatest of seasons in 2020/21, but scored 16 times which was one of the most bizarre seasons during the COVID-19 pandemic. A swift start to the new season, with five goals in nine appearances saw him surpass over 100 goals for the club.

Mane missed many chances before scoring late on

Not everyone’s football journey into the game is plain sailing – enduring plenty of setbacks and heartache that has led to beautiful desintations.

Mane is one of many footballers to have accomplished it under difficult circumstances.

Parents forbid him to play football

Mane was raised in Bambali, Senegal and nobody at his village played professional football as his parents believed he was wasting his time.

They wanted him to pursue a career, but he was determined to make it.

He ended up moving to Dakar without mum and dad’s knowledge to restore some hope of someone noticing his talent and earned a spot in the Generation Football Academy.

A massive changing phrase of his life and the rest was history.

Mane left home at an early age to pursue his dream in Europe and is always proud to represent Senegal

Generation Football Academy

Mane was noticed and had the chance to follow the footsteps of other top African talents, including former West Ham striker Diafra Sakho and ex-Newcastle forward Papiss Cisse.

Veteran scout, Abdou Diatta, recalled his first impressions weren’t encouraging.

“Personally, I didn’t think he’d make it with us because he was too shy. It was as if he didn’t want to play,” said Diatta, as quoted by BeSoccer.

“But when I saw his touch on the ball I said to myself, ‘this guy is really a good player.”

After two days of showing what he could do, Diatta turned to Jules Boucher, a coach at the time, and said: “This one, we’ll take him straight away.”

Mane’s move to Austrian side Salzburg helped launch him to the Premier League

Moving to Europe

Mane’s favourite side in his early childhood was Marseille in Ligue 1.
He ended up playing in the French league and joined Metz in 2011.

Not the greatest stint, but it proved to be a valuable learning experience in pushing himself forward – netting three times in 22 appearances as Metz were relegated.

The big move arrived when Red Bull Salzburg signed him for around £3.5m, and won the league and domestic cup in his second season – scoring 23 times in 50 appearances across all competitions.

Fastest hat-trick in Premier League history

In his first season at Southampton in 2014, he made history for being the fastest player to complete a Premier League hat-trick.

It only took him two minutes and 53 seconds to break the record against Aston Villa in May 2015, surpassing Robbie Fowler’s record of four minutes 33 seconds against Arsenal in 1994.

Mane was an instant hit in the Premier League with his goals for Southampton

Role models and superstars

Whilst growing up, he watched his national team reach the 2002 World Cup.

Ex-Liverpool player El Hadji Diouf was one of the best players for his country at the time and inspired him to play in the Premier League. When Mane joined the Reds, he was the third Senegal player to play for the club.

His second hero is Ronaldinho. The people at his village widely regarded him as the former Brazilian star because of his playing style.

In his eyes, they were both passionate and skilful players, who had a big smile on their faces.

If he scores against Watford, which is live on talkSPORT on Saturday then expect that grin to be on display again.

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