A 16-Year Old Sadio Mane Ran Away From Home Because He Wanted To Play Football So Badly
Sadio Mane was so desperate to become a professional footballer that he was willing to do whatever it took. So much so that at 16 years of age, with his parents not allowing him to leave school, he packed his stuff and ran away.
Mane's goal was to make his way to Dakar, the capital of Senegal, to try and further his career and he fled having only told his best friend about his plan.
"I prepared everything down to the minute, knowing that I did not have any money at all," Mane told France Football in an in-depth.
"At sunset, I hid in the tall grass, in front of my house, and early the following morning, I brushed my teeth and didn't even take a shower. I left without telling anyone, apart from my best friend.
"I walked for a long time to meet up with a friend who loaned me some money so that I could take the bus to Dakar."
Mane soon had a place to stay and started training with teams but his parents were concerned and soon found out where he'd gone after they pressed his mate into spilling the beans. He did, however, eventually get their blessing.
"I was welcomed by a family who I did not know. I immediately took part in training sessions at recognised teams. But my parents were looking for me everywhere," Mane added.
"They were convinced that my best friend knew where I was. He held on, he did not say anything. But my family and his, they put terrible pressure on him, and he eventually gave me up.
"My parents then called me to demand that I return home. I did not want to because I was ashamed to come back but I ended up agreeing on the condition that they would let me try my luck [at football] once the school year was over."
After coming through the Senegalese football academy, Mane would join FC Metz in France before his career took off with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria.
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He then tore it up with Southampton in the Premier League and established himself as one of the deadliest forwards in the world with Liverpool after his £34 million move made him the most expensive African footballer in history.
But it wasn't all plain-sailing for Mane. When he attended his first ever trials, he felt completely out of place. Other youngsters laughed at him and he did not have equipment up to standard.
"There were 200 or 300 youngsters who were waiting in line for their chance, it started badly for me because when I presented myself, I was laughed at," Mane admitted.
"I did not look like a footballer. I was wearing pants that looked nothing like football shorts. And my football boots were completely shredded on the sides and had been repaired by me with wire the best I could.
"Those who oversaw the trials would look at me with a bizarre facial expression: "You really want to become a footballer?" I understood them but I did not have a choice.
"As I was not that bad, they took me. That was the beginning of my adventure."
Sadio Mane on his first football trials: "I was laughed at. I didn't look like a footballer. I was wearing pants that looked nothing like football shorts. My football boots were completely shredded & had been repaired by me with wire."- Laurie (@LFCLaurie) June 24, 2019
I bet they aren't laughing now, Sadio. pic.twitter.com/xTAmBDVhIr
Nobody is laughing at Mane now. He's just won the Champions League with Liverpool and is now captaining his country at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Started from the bottom, now he's here...