Mady Touré liked to tell across Senegal that a young Casamançais by the name of Sadio Mané, whom he had brought to Génération Foot, the academy he had created in Dakar, would one day become a very great player. We listened to him with the politeness that is sometimes reserved for remarks deemed fanciful. After all, how many times had we heard of the new Maradona, Pelé, or Platini?
It was at the end of the 2000s, and Sadio Mané had just been spotted next to Mbour and directed to Génération Foot. Less than two years later, and after helping his team to reach the Senegalese Ligue 2, the striker flew to France. Direction Metz, in Lorraine.
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“He knows no doubt”
“He was one of the most gifted. Il had something, a lot of talent, rigor and a mind of steel, remembers Mady Touré, founder of Génération Foot, himself a former footballer. As Génération Foot is a partner of FC Metz, he could only go to this club. »
Upon his arrival in France, Mané does not speak of the pubalgia which has been disturbing him for several weeks already in order not to compromise his chances. At the beginning of 2011, with his monthly salary of 800 euros, he learned to adapt to his new environment. His appearances are limited to the under-19 team and the reserves in the CFA. But the young man from Casamance is driven by unlimited self-confidence. “He does not know the doubt, continues Touré. He waited his turn, while continuing to work to better understand the game in Europe. »
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In Senegal already, Mané had assimilated the codes and rules likely to lead him to the heights, by being attentive to food or recovery. The demands of European football push him to be even stricter. FC Metz, which has not spent a penny to bring in the player – the French club bears part of the operating costs of Génération Foot in return for free transfers of the best academicians – is patiently watching this talent hatch at the pure state.
“He became more and more professional, because he knew that to succeed, talent was not enough. Sadio lost his father when he was young, et he had a mission, that of feeding his family,” adds Touré. Quickly, and on the advice of the latter, Mané banned from his diet all sauces or almost, partly responsible for his pubalgia. “Some players nicknamed me ketchup-mayonnaise,” smiles Touré.
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Several months after his arrival in France and on a freezing evening in January 2012, Mané finally made his Ligue 2 debut in a match lost at home to Bastia (0-1). The Senegalese, who is not yet 20 years old, makes an appearance of a few minutes, which will be followed by several others, much more consistent. But the season ends badly for Metz, relegated to National, while Mané, whose talent is starting to make people talk beyond French borders, is still learning.
In everyday life The Team, several of his former Metz team-mates now admit being wrong about him. “I thought he would end up as a good Ligue 1 player, no more,” Pierre Bouby explained to the French sports daily last April. Mané will never play in the French L1: a few weeks after the relegation of Metz to the third national level, where we see him four times, he is transferred to Red Bull Salzburg, in Austria, for 4 million euros. Followed by FC Southampton, Liverpool and now Bayern Munich, one of the best clubs in the world, where he earns more than a million euros per month, more than double what the Red accountant paid him monthly. Far, very far from the 800 euros of FC Metz…