Around this time yesterday, Sadio Mané was fresh off a glittering debut in Washington, D.C., for his new club Bayern Munich. What followed for him was a hectic itinerary: a long flight out to Rabat, Morocco, for the Confederation of African Football 2022 awards, where he’s just won his second consecutive African Men’s Player of the Year trophy.
Mané had been given special permission to depart from Bayern’s preseason tour of the United States to attend the CAF Awards, which were last held in 2019 due to the (still ongoing) COVID-19 pandemic. That year, he’d been crowned for the first time, fresh off Liverpool’s signature Champions League win over Tottenham Hotspur.
Fast forward and 2022 has been another banner year for the 30-year-old forward: a resurgent domestic performance for Liverpool in a Premier League race against eventual champions Manchester City that went down to the wire, and an African Cup of Nations triumph for Senegal. Now, a sensational and widely-celebrated move at the start of the transfer window to continental Europe and the Bundesliga champions.
Mané outdueled two teammates to retain his crown: Chelsea FC keeper Edouard Mendy, also of Senegal, and Liverpool striker and Egyptian international Mohammed Salah, who also shared the Premier League’s Golden Boot award this season with Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min.
The CAF Men’s Player of the Year award is a significant honor to win once, and Mané is now the tenth player in history to win it twice — consecutively, to boot. It’s a joyous time for a joy-filled player who is taking his game to new heights, and now, new venues.
Mané also becomes the first Bayern player to earn this distinction. “[It’s] a special honor for our club,” said Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn, as captured by @iMiaSanMia. “We are very proud that he is now with our club and we have many big goals with him.”
There is to be plenty of adventure — and more long flights — up ahead.
For now, it’s a moment to savor for the ever-humble superstar.
“I dedicate this award to the youth of Senegal,” he said in his victory speech in Rabat, as captured by ESPN. “I’m very emotional and don’t have the words to express how I’m feeling!”