Sadio Mane was crowned African Player of the Year in Rabat on Thursday for the second time. The Senegal forward first won the honour in 2019 while he was at Liverpool. The 30-year-old left the Premier League club last month after signing a three-year deal with Bayern Munich. “I am really honoured and highly delighted to receive this award again,” Mane said. “Thanks to my coaches, my club and national team colleagues and those friends who stood by me during difficult times.”
Mane was in the Moroccan capital to receive the award after a dash across the Atlantic having converted a penalty for his new club in a 6-2 pre-season friendly win over DC United in Washington on Wednesday.
It was the second successive continental player of the year award for Mane after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the last two editions.
He won ahead of former Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah from Egypt and fellow Senegal international and Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
Mane and Salah played pivotal roles last season with Liverpool, who lifted the FA Cup and English League Cup and finished runners-up in the Premier League and Champions League.
Salah has since signed a new contract at Anfield while Mane opted for a move, with Bayern reportedly paying an initial 32 million euros ($32.5 million) that could rise to 41 million euros.
The transfer fee was a far cry from the four million euros Red Bull Salzburg paid Metz in 2012 when Mane made his first move in Europe.
– Decisive penalties –
In February, Mane converted the decisive fifth penalty to give Senegal a 4-2 shootout victory over Egypt and a first Africa Cup of Nations title after the final ended 0-0 in Yaounde.
A month later, Mane was once again the shootout match-winner against Egypt, this time in a World Cup play-off near Dakar after a 1-1 aggregate stalemate.
Salah did not get a chance to take a penalty in the Cup of Nations decider while he blazed the first Egyptian kick wide in the play-off that secured a World Cup place in Qatar this November for Senegal.
Born in a village nearly 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Dakar, Mane attracted the attention of Metz having played for local second-tier club Generation Foot.
After enhancing his reputation at Salzburg, Mane joined Southampton, where his feats included scoring a record-breaking 176-second Premier League hat-trick against Aston Villa.
In mid-2016 the Senegalese signed for Liverpool and went on to form a fearsome front three with Salah and Brazilian Roberto Firmino.
As Mane moved to Bayern, Liverpool manager said Jurgen Klopp said: “My only criticism of Sadio is that maybe at times he is the only one not to realise just how good he is.”
Nigerian Asisat Oshoala won the Women’s Player of the Year a record fifth time, overtaking compatriot Perpetua Nkwocha.
The 27-year-old Barcelona forward was forced to miss the ongoing Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco due to an injury.
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