Senegal national team talisman Sadio Mane told his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah that defeat in the Africa Cup of Nations final doesn’t take anything away from his standing in the game.
Senegal overcame Egypt on penalties in Sunday night’s final, ending their long wait to win the continent’s biggest prize.
It was always set up to be a battle between the two Liverpool forwards, each inspiring their nation to the showpiece in Yaounde in Cameroon.
And it was Mane, so often overshadowed by his colleague, who ended the night in celebration, converting the winning penalty in the shootout after the two sides were deadlocked at 0-0 after 120 minutes.
Mane bounced back from missing a spot-kick in the seventh minute of normal time, to spark wild scenes of celebration both in the stadium and back in Dakar.
Shortly after his crowning moment, he made sure to console Salah, who was unable to hide his anguish, openly crying on the pitch.
The 29-year-old opened up on the words he said to his teammate, assuring him he will have many chances to lift trophies in the future.
“I told him that he remains a very great player and it’s a pleasure to play for the same club,” Mane was quoted saying.
“I have so much respect for him and he gave everything for his country.”
“Unfortunately, he didn’t win, but that doesn’t mean it’s over for him.”
“I also told him that he still has many things to win, including the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. They have a young team so maybe they will win it one day.”
Mane admitted that it was the support of the rest of the Senegal side that helped him bounce back from the crushing disappointment of the early missed penalty.