Sadio Mane has been crowned the 2022 African Footballer of the Year ahead of former Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah and Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
The Senegal forward was named the continent’s player of the year at the Caf Awards ceremony in Rabat on Thursday night. It is the second time Mane has won the award.
Only four other players have won the award in consecutive years, with Mane joining Salah, El Hadji Diouf, Samuel Eto’o and Yaya Toure to claim back-to-back gongs.
Bayern Munich summer signing Mane is now closing in on Eto’o and Toure, who both won the prize a record four times.
Mane said: ‘I’m really honoured to be here for the fifth time and I’m delighted to receive this honour tonight.
‘I have to thank my colleagues at club level and the national team. I’m very emotional, I don’t have the words to express myself.’
Mane played a starring role in Senegal’s maiden Africa Cup of Nations triumph earlier in the year, scoring the decisive penalty which saw his side lift the trophy against Egypt.
The 30-year-old was named Player of the Tournament after Senegal’s emotional win and subsequently helped his country qualify for the World Cup.
In the domestic game, Mane enjoyed another superb season for Liverpool, scoring 23 goals as Jurgen Klopp’s side won the FA Cup and League Cup, reached the Champions League final and finished one point behind Premier League champions Manchester City.
While Mane enjoyed a brilliant year for club and country, so did Liverpool forward Salah and Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy.
Salah scored 27 goals and made 14 assists in all competitions and led Egypt to the AFCON final and on the verge of the World Cup.
Mendy, meanwhile, proved a solid presence in goal for African champions Senegal and Chelsea, who reached two domestic rivals and finished third in the Premier League.
Mane ended his six-year association with Liverpool earlier in the summer, joining German champions Bayern Munich in a deal worth £35m.
Klopp paid tribute to the departing star at the time, saying: ‘It’s a big moment. There is no point in anyone trying to pretend otherwise.
‘One of Liverpool’s greatest ever players is leaving and we must acknowledge how significant this is.
‘He leaves with our gratitude and our love. He leaves with his status among the greats guaranteed. And, yes, he leaves in a moment where he is one of the best players in world football.
‘But we must not dwell on what we now lose, instead celebrate what we were privileged to have.
‘The goals he scored, the trophies he won; a legend, for sure, but also a modern-day Liverpool icon.
‘I respect completely his decision and I’m sure our supporters do also. If you love LFC, you have to love Sadio – non-negotiable. It is possible to do this while accepting our loss is Bayern’s gain.
‘We wish him nothing but success in every match he plays in, unless, of course, it’s against us. His star will continue to rise, I have no doubts.’
Caf men’s awards in full
Club of the Year (Men) – Wydad Athletic Club
Interclub Player of the Year (Men) – Mohamed El Shenawy (Egypt & Al Ahly)
Young Player of the Year (Men) – Pape Matar Sarr (Senegal & Tottenham Hotspur)
National Team of the Year (Men) – Senegal
Goal of the Year- Pape Ousmane Sakho (Senegal & Simba)
Coach of the Year – (Men) – Aliou Cisse (Senegal)
Photo Credit: Getty