Sadio Mane ran away from home and lied to his parents to pursue his football dream at 16

Sadio Mane is one of the most feared forwards in Europe. 

He netted 22 goals in 36 Premier League appearances last season and was a key part of Liverpool’s Champions League triumph. 

The 27-year-old is also captain of Senegal and is currently on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations. 

Mane has reached the top of the professional game – but his rise to the summit was not easy.

Since arriving back in Africa to play with his country, the forward has opened up on his remarkable journey.

It was one which saw him run away from home and lie to his parents to pursue his dream at 16-years-old after he was forbidden to drop out of his school.   

“I prepared everything down to the minute, knowing that I did not have any money at all,” Mane told France Football.

“At sunset, I hid in the tall grass, in front of my house, and early the following morning, I brushed my teeth and didn’t even take a shower. I left without telling anyone, apart from my best friend.

“I walked for a long time to meet up with a friend who loaned me some money so that I could take the bus to Dakar.” 

After he arrived in Dakar, Mane advanced through the Senegalese football academy, and the promise he showed there was enough to convince his parents that pursuing football was the right call. 

“I was welcomed by a family who I did not know. I immediately took part in training sessions at recognised teams. But my parents were looking for me everywhere,” he continued.

“They were convinced that my best friend knew where I was. He held on, he did not say anything. But my family and his, they put terrible pressure on him, and he eventually gave me up.

“My parents then called me to demand that I return home. I did not want to because I was ashamed to come back but I ended up agreeing on the condition that they would let me try my luck [at football] once the school year was over.”

It’s a good job that Mane’s parents allowed him to play at 16 because 11 years later, he’s captaining Senegal at the Cup of Nations, less than a month after winning the Champions League. 

What a journey he’s been on – and he no doubt has plenty of years left at the top.