Sadio Mane was named African Footballer of the Year for 2019 on Tuesday after winning the Champions League with Liverpool and leading Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final.
Mane, 27, wins the award for the first time after finishing runner-up to his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah of Egypt in 2017 and 2018. He was third in 2016.
He is only the second Senegalese to win the award after El Hadji Diouf, who was the winner in 2001 and 2002.
He netted a brace in the 3-0 group phase victory over Kenya and added one more in the round of 16 1-0 win over Uganda.
He was also a vital part of the team as they beat Benin and Tunisia in the quarters and semis respectively, his influence playing a big role in Senegal’s run to the final.
For his club Liverpool, Mane was just as sensational as he was for Senegal as he played another crucial role aiding them to the UEFA Champions League title for the first time since 2005.
The forward scored crucial goals, key among them a double over Bayern Munich in a 3-1 victory in the round of 16 and once in the aggregate 6-1 win over Porto in the quarter-finals as the Reds steamrolled into the final and ultimately bag the Champions League title.
In the English Premier League, Mane shared the Golden Boot crown with Salah and Arsenal’s Gabonese front-man Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, all three having netted 22 times for their respective clubs. On top of that, Mane scored 39 goals across all competitions for Liverpool in the 2018-2019 season.
The forward kept his form into the new campaign and in the season-opening UEFA Super Cup, Mane scored twice in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea, a game they ultimately won 5-4 on penalties to pick up yet another trophy.
At the just concluded FIFA Club World Cup in Doha, Qatar, Mane laid up the assist for Roberto Firmino’s winning goal in the final against Flamengo.
The Senegalese hitman was also in the top five for the Ballon d’Or, a crown ultimately won by Argentine wizard Lionel Messi.
•Text (excluding headline): Reuters & Punch