‘It’s true… which is sad’: Sadio Mane thinks African players are unfairly overlooked for the Ballon d’Or as he seeks to become the first player from the continent to win the prestigious award since George Weah in 1995
- The last African Ballon d’Or winner was George Weah almost 30 years ago
- Sadio Mane has had a great 2022, leading Senegal to the African Cup of Nations
- He hopes to win the Champions League and says that the Ballon d’Or would be a plus
Sadio Mane has claimed that African players are not considered serious candidates for the Ballon d’Or, as he revealed his desire to become the first winner from his continent since 1995.
Mane has been outstanding in 2022, leading Senegal to victory in the African Cup of Nations and then guiding them to the World Cup final; Those outstanding efforts have gone hand in hand with his magnificent form for Liverpool, who will try to win the Champions League on Saturday night.
Questions remain about Mane’s long-term future on Merseyside, with Bayern Munich apparently determined to recruit him, and the 30-year-old has vowed to reveal his intentions on what comes next after the clash with Real Madrid.
Sadio Mane agrees that African players are often unfairly overlooked in Ballon d’Or contention
What is not questioned is the desire of the number 10 of Liverpool to take the biggest individual prize of the match. It will be awarded at a ceremony in Paris this October, but Mane believes he is trying to climb a mountain to prove that he can stand alongside George Weah.
Told that African players are often unfairly overlooked, Mane replied: ‘It’s true. If you say so, what can I say myself? which is sad. This cup, the African Cup of Nations is one of the biggest for me, it is the biggest trophy I have ever won in my life.
“For an African player not to have won the Ballon d’Or since George Weah is sad, for sure. Winning the Champions League is special. I have the chance to play it again and we have the chance to win it as we have a strong team.
The last African player to win the Ballon d’Or was George Weah in 1995.
“We’ll do everything to win it and then we’ll see what happens, with the Ballon d’Or. I think all the Liverpool players and I will have goals from the start of the season, to go for all the trophies for sure. So far we have won two and lost one, which is behind us.
Manchester City deserved it (winning the title). Winning the Champions League would be special for me and for all the other guys. This is what we focus on. We have to do what we can to win… and the rest is for you to decide.
“For me it would be even more special to have another bonus, which is the Ballon d’Or, and I would be the happiest player in the world.” Whatever happens this summer, Mane, whose current contract expires in June 2023, shouldn’t fear the way he is regarded in Liverpool’s pantheon of modern greats. He is arguably the biggest signing of the Jurgen Klopp era, the first big money who was a smash hit.
He has been the man of the great occasion for Liverpool; He scored in the 2018 Champions League final against Real Madrid, won a penalty the following year against Tottenham, demolished Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final in April and continues to come up with massive goals.
Mane is preparing with Liverpool for their upcoming Champions League final on Saturday.
Mane hopes a win could boost his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or award this year.
“Honestly, I’m enjoying every moment of it,” Mane said. ‘The Champions League final will be even more special (if) we win it. Two finals is something but you have to dream big and I am a player who dreams big.
“Playing in a Champions League final I think is special and we have to make it even more special.” We have the team to do it. I’d say one of the best seasons…so far! I won one of the most important things in my life and it gives me even more motivation to take the next step.’
On his future, he added: ‘The answer I can give you now is that I feel very good, and I am totally focused on the game on Saturday, that is the answer I must give before the final. But come back to me on Saturday and I will give you the best answer. For now, let’s go and win it.’