In purely football terms, the gods of the game constantly attract headlines but Sadio Mané despite his knack for modesty on and off the pitch cannot help standing out from among his peers this past year at least.By Ibrahima Dione
And yet the Senegalese is currently one of the best footballers on the planet, easily making his mark at England’s legendary football club, Liverpool.
Since he put pen to paper to join the Merseyside in 2016, like fine wine, Mane has been improving with time.
The previous season, he tore through opposition defences, finding the back of the net 22 times in a highly competitive league as the English Premiership.
The Liverpool ace has been shining since, to the point that he was included in the top five of France Football’s latest Ballon d’Or ranking.
Despite his undeniable talent, the striker prefers to duck from the limelight rather than make headlines on the tabloids, which eternally on the lookout for juicy stories to tell.
“In reality, the human being is nothing more than the product of his socialization. Certainly, Sadio had to be educated in a traditional environment where he acquired values,” said psychologist Khalifa Diagne.
Diagne, who works at the Centre des œuvres universitaires de Dakar (Coud), noted that “it’s not surprising that Mane doesn’t behave in a way that could feed the tabloids. Because the traditional and religious values in which he was moulded mean that he does not, at any time, give in to certain temptations”.
In an era where Information and Communication Technology (ICT) occupies a predominant place in the public space, Senegalese pride is keen, at all costs, to preserve its private life.
“For a star, this can be an advantage or a disadvantage. In the daily life of celebrities, there are a number of communication and marketing elements,” the behavioural specialist noted.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Instagram account peaks at 192 million followers, while Lionel Messi’s is at 138 million.
With 34.6 million fans, Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah is far ahead of Sadio Mane (with only 5.3 million followership).
The 27-year-old, who is too discreet off the pitch, usually posts photos of matches with Liverpool or Senegal unlike Portugal’s ace Ronaldo, and so many others, who do not hesitate to cast themselves on the limelight.
Finally, Khalifa Diagne added that “responsible behaviour allows a footballer to lead a healthy lifestyle and to win the sympathy of certain cultures. But the media coverage increases sponsorship deals.”
Atypically, Sadio Mane seems to find personal solace in the support he renders mainly to the people of his native Bambaly village, 400 km south of the capital Dakar.
“Why would I want 10 Ferraris, 20 watches and 2 jets? I don’t need luxury cars and houses. I grew up poor, I played football barefoot. Today, with what I earn through football, I can help my people,” he said with an unmistakable tinge of humility.
All in all, the worthy successor of Jules François Bocande (1958-2012) in the heart of the people of southern Senegal, has built a mosque and a high school in his village.
Not stopping there, the football icon provides clothing and food to the destitute.
And, according to him, many of his dependents receive the monthly sum of 70 euros (46,000 CFA francs).
“The importance Sadio Mane attaches to social issues is not ordinary. It is important for him because he comes from a disadvantaged background. He has experienced poverty and (now) he wants to give a chance to others that he didn’t have” Diagne explained.