Liverpool teammates Mo Salah and Sadio Mane will face each other once again in the coming days as Egypt and Senegal battle it out for a spot at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, and the pair have been discussing who their idols were when they were growing up and were seeking a professional career in the beautiful game.
Speaking to FIFA.com, Mane revealed a former Liverpool player and ex-Senegal international was one of his idols whilst the Egyptian King named three popular names that shined on the European stage as his childhood rivals.
“I used to love El-Hadji Diouf and Ronaldinho, but especially Ronaldinho. He was… wow. The goals, the skills, the moves you had never seen before. I used to pretend I was him when I was young, but I couldn’t do the things he could. I still love him. He will be my hero forever,” Mane said.
“I have always loved magicians. Those unique players who can do things others can’t. When I first got into football it was Zidane, the Brazilian Ronaldo and Totti. I used to love watching them and pretending I was them when I was out on the street with my friends,” Salah said.
It’s understandable for Mane to pick Diouf as one of his idols purely because they’re from the same nation, but the No. 10’s selection of Ronaldinho makes more sense.
The former Southampton man has previously described Diouf as the ‘best player in the history’ of Senegal – but we think that award goes to Mane himself.
Salah’s time at AS Roma may have influenced his decision to select Italian legend Francesco Totti amongst his idols.
You’d have every right to argue that the current generation of youngsters will be viewing Mane and Salah themselves as their childhood idols with the amount of talent they possess and the success they’ve tasted in recent years.
Both Mane and Salah did face each other back in January in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations which saw heartache for Egypt as Senegal won on penalties.
The Pharaohs will therefore be seeking revenge across the impending two-legged play-off tie.
Let’s hope both players can return back to Merseyside in good health as we continue our hunt for Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup success.