Sadio Mane reveals his idol and Liverpool fans won’t like it

Senegal international Sadio Mane has admitted that his idol growing up was his compatriot and former Liverpool forward El-Hadji Diouf.

Heralded as a coup for Liverpool after signing following an exceptional World Cup in 2002, Diouf’s time at Anfield was instead marred by controversial incidents, the most famous of which was when he spat at a supporter during a UEFA Cup game against Celtic.

A total of six goals in 79 appearances for the club wasn’t much of a return on Liverpool’s sizeable £10m investment in Diouf while his negative comments about Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher since retiring have further diminished his reputation amongst Liverpool’s fanbase.

In an interview on French TV, Diouf said he did not respect Gerrard as a player and labelled Carragher ‘s**t’.  Despite his regular criticisms of the two Liverpool legends, though, Diouf is a hero to Mane, as is former Barcelona star Ronaldinho.

Speaking at length to Bleacher Report, Mane said: ‘When I was young, I had lots of favourite footballers, but Ronaldinho was my real favourite, along with El-Hadji Diouf from Senegal.

They really inspired me. ‘Those two players were examples for me as a footballer. They were skilful players and good dribblers who beat their opponents easily.

‘I was a very good dribbler as a young player, but now that I’ve got more experience, there are some useless things that I don’t do anymore. It’s all about making and scoring goals for the team, like my idols did when they were at the peak of their powers.’

Diouf certainly had his share of controversial moments during his time in British football in spells with Liverpool, Bolton, Sunderland, Blackburn, Rangers, Leeds United and Doncaster United.

There were further accusations of spitting while he was playing for Bolton and Doncaster, while Neil Warnock labelled him a ‘sewer rat’ after he allegedly taunted Jamie Mackie after he had suffered a broken leg.

Nevertheless, despite his reputation in England, Diouf is revered in his homeland for his performances for the Senegalese national team, particularly during the country’s run to the World Cup quarter-final’s in 2002.

Mane meanwhile has far surpassed Diouf’s accomplishments at Liverpool since joining from Southampton in a £36m deal in 2016, becoming an integral member of Jurgen Klopp’s side in attack, alongside Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.

He is the leading goalscorer in the Premier League this season with four in as many games and will be looking to extend that record against Spurs at Wembley on Saturday.