Sadio Mane has been named African Footballer of Year after a season that saw him kick the winning penalty for Senegal as they claimed their first Africa Cup of Nations title and repeat the feat when they secured the World Cup qualification.
The 30-year-old forward player, who signed a three-year deal with German giants Bayern Munich last month, won the award for the first time in 2019 while he was at English side Liverpool.
“I am really honoured and highly delighted to receive this award again,” Mane said on Thursday. “Thanks to my coaches, my club and national team colleagues and those friends who stood by me during difficult times.”
“I dedicate this award to the youth of Senegal. I’m very emotional and don’t have the words to express how I’m feeling,” he added.
Nigerian Asisat Oshoala won the Women’s Player of the Year for a record fifth time, overtaking compatriot Perpetua Nkwocha.
The 27-year-old Barcelona forward was forced to miss the ongoing Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco due to an injury.
There were musical performances by Nigerian star Tiwa Savage and Ivorian supergroup Magic System at the event, which was hosted by Cameroonian actress and presenter Sophy Aiida and Moroccan journalist Jalal Bouzrara.
Mane was in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, to receive the award after a dash across the Atlantic having converted a penalty for his new club in a 6-2 pre-season friendly win over DC United in Washington on Wednesday.
He won ahead of former Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah from Egypt and fellow Senegal international and Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
Mane and Salah played pivotal roles last season with Liverpool, who lifted the FA Cup and English League Cup and finished runners-up in the Premier League and Champions League.
Salah has since signed a new contract at Anfield while Mane opted for a move, with Bayern reportedly paying an initial 32 million euros ($32.5m) that could rise to 41 million euros ($41.7m).
In February, Mane converted the decisive fifth penalty to give Senegal a 4-2 shoot-out victory over Egypt and a first Africa Cup of Nations title after the final ended 0-0 in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital.
A month later, Mane was once again the shoot-out match-winner against Egypt, this time in a World Cup playoff near Senegal’s capital, Dakar, after a 1-1 aggregate impasse.
Born in a village nearly 400km (250 miles) from Dakar, Mane attracted the attention of Metz having played for local second-tier club Generation Foot.
After enhancing his reputation at Salzburg, Mane joined Southampton, where his feats included scoring a record-breaking 176-second Premier League hat-trick against Aston Villa.
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