Liverpool forward Sadio Mane gave a typically humble and gracious speech after he was crowned the CAF African Player of the Year.
The 27-year-old received a total of 477 votes at the ceremony in Hurghada, beating teammate Mohamed Salah and Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez, who received 325 and 267 votes respectively, to the trophy.
It was a deserved victory for Mane and despite revealing pride at his latest triumph, he made an “honest” admission at the start of this short, but humble speech.
Sadio Mane’s African footballer of the year acceptance speech
“To be honest I would prefer to be playing football than speaking in front of so many people,” said Mané.
“I’m really happy and really proud at the same time. I would like to thank my family, especially my uncle who is here today.
“It is a big day for me and I would love to thank all the Senegalese people who have been voting for me. I’m from a very small village called Bambali and I’m sure they are all watching me tonight.”
Mane scored an impressive 32 goals in 53 appearances for Liverpool last year.
He enjoyed an incredible season under Jurgen Klopp, helping his team win the Champions League, Club World Cup and Super Cup.
The forward was also instrumental in the club’s Premier League success last season, and was deservedly named in the PFA Team of the Year; not to mention his sharing of the Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
It has been a remarkable journey for the Sedhiou-born forward, who was so desperate to become a professional footballer at the age of 16, that he packed his stuff and ran away.
“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 interview.
“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.”