Sadio Mane has thanked German coach Roger Schmidt for helping him as a youngster and giving him the belief to succeed, although his family still can’t quite believe he’s made it to where he is today.
The Senegalese flyer moved to France as a youngster, where he developed at Metz, but it wasn’t until a switch to Red Bull Salzburg in Austria that he began to fulfil his potential.
Here, he bagged 23 in his final full season and earned a switch to Southampton, where he stayed for two seasons until Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp took the plunge.
“He [Roger Schmidt] at Bayer Leverkusen now,” Mane told Liverpool’s official magazine, cited in the Echo.
“He was a big influence on my career thanks to the way he believed in me and helped me so much.
“I was still young when I went to Salzburg and working under him really helped me to grow up and grow up as a player. I learned about tactics and different ways to play the game.
“When I was maybe two or three I started playing football.
“I think I always had it in my heart and in my mind. There was nothing else I ever wanted to do and that is still the same right now.
“I always thought I could be a footballer. I would run away from school to go playing it with my friends and get punished when I came home later. But I’d always go playing again because I loved it so much,
“My family are very religious and wanted me to just concentrate on school – they didn’t have any interest in football. Nobody really believed (becoming a footballer) was a possibility.
“Even now my mum will phone me up and says she still can’t believe that I am here playing in England in the Premier League.”
Hopefully by the end of Mane’s career, Schmidt won’t be the only German the flyer owes a gratitude to…
Klopp brought him to Anfield when many questioned Mane’s consistency and temperament at Southampton, but he’s well and truly hit the ground running.
The 24-year-old has three Premier League goals, a Goal of the Month award and Player of the Month award to his name already. In short, he’s been sensational and looks an absolute snip at £30m – especially in this day and age when average footballers go for such absurd sums.
Long may he stay fit and tearing up Premier League defences for Liverpool!