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Sadio Mané is the Senegalese star on Liverpool’s football club in the Premier League. In 2019, he was crowned Africa’s greatest player. To watch him play is to be in awe. His speed, direction changes and vision of the field are almost otherworldly. He competes with intensity but is so fluid it seems as if opposing players are somehow weighed down, and the ball is magically attracted to Sadio.
Playing among the best in the world is a dream of thousands of youngsters. To be one of the best must elevate one’s ego to gigantic proportions, especially when you consider Sadio earns $10 million a year.
So it surprised fans when Sadio Mané was photographed with a phone that had a cracked screen. Fans joked that surely he could afford a new phone, even a more updated one. Sadio’s reply put life in perspective. The phone was a gift from a friend, and he valued friendship over things.
Then he went on to say, “Why would I want 10 Ferraris, 20 diamond watches and two jet planes? I starved, I worked in the fields, played barefoot, and I didn’t go to school. Now I can help people. I prefer to build schools and give poor people food or clothing. I have built schools and a stadium, provided clothes, shoes and food for people in extreme poverty. In addition, I give 70 Euros per month to all people from a very poor Senegalese region in order to contribute to their family economy. I do not need to display luxury cars, luxury homes, trips and even planes. I prefer my people receive some of what life has given me.”
Whoever we are, we must not forget where we have come from. Sadio was born in the very poor village of Bambali in Senegal. His father died when he was 7 years old. He left his village at 15 to pursue his dreams of playing soccer. After a few years in developmental leagues, he worked his way to the semi-pros, where a scout spotted him and signed him to his first pro team at age 20 for 4 million Euros. His career has been a steady climb, but he has never forgotten who he is. He most recently built a school and a hospital in his home village of Banbali.
To see Sadio Mané play is to see his life’s work: moving quickly, humbly to get the job done, making unselfish passes and scoring when his team needs him most. And smiling at the end of a match when he has expended all of his energy and knows he has given his best.
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