Liverpool and Senegal star Sadio Mane says African players are not paying attention to the Ballon d’Or as he has expressed his desire to become the first winner on the continent since 1995.
Mane led Senegal to victory in the Africa Cup of Nations and helped them win a ticket to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He aims to win the Champions League with Liverpool on Saturday night.
When it was pointed out to him that African players are often overlooked, Mane replied: ‘It is true. If you say, what do I mean? Sadly. This trophy, the Africa Cup of Nations is one of the biggest for me, the biggest trophy I have ever won in my life.
‘For an African player who has not won the Ballon d’Or since George Weah it is very sad. Winning the Champions League is special. I have a chance to play it and we also have a chance to win it as we have a strong team.
We will do our best to overcome it and see what happens, with the Ballon d’Or. I think I and all the Liverpool players will have goals from the start of the season, to get all the trophies for sure. So far we have won two, missed one, which is behind us.
‘Manchester City deserved it completely (to win the title). Winning the Champions League would be special for me and all the other guys. This is what we are focusing on. We have to do our best to win … and the rest you have to decide for yourself.
‘For me, it would be even more special to have another bonus – the Ballon d’Or – and I’ll be the happiest player in the world.’
In the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday night, he said: ‘really, I really enjoy it for one minute,’ ‘Mane said. ‘The Champions League final will make it very special (if) we win it. Two finals is something but you have to dream a lot and I am a player with a big dream.
‘Playing the Champions League final I think is special and we have to make it very special. We have a team to do it. I would say one of the best times of the year … so far! I have won one of the most important things in my life and it gives me more motivation to move on to the next step. ‘
For his future, he added: ‘The answer I can give you now is that I feel very happy, and fully focused on Saturday’s game, that is the answer I must give before the final. But come back to me on Saturday and I will give you the best answer. In the meantime, let us go and conquer it. ‘
The last African player to win the Ballon d’Or was, Liberian president and former footballer George Weah in 1995.