Sadio Mane denies Mo Salah hat-trick of African best player awards, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Sadio Mane denies Mo Salah hat-trick of African best player awards

Liverpool star Sadio Mane was crowned as 2019 African Player of the Year for the first time at an awards gala in Egypt yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The 27-year old Senegalese forward was up against his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah, the Egyptian who won the award for the last two years, and Algerian Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City.

"I would love to be playing football more than speaking in front of many important people," said Mane at the ceremony in Hurghada.

"Football is my job - I love it. I am really happy and, at the same time, I am really proud to win this award. I would like to thank my family, especially my uncle who is here today, and my national and Liverpool teammates, staff, everybody.

"It's a big day for me. I would love to thank all the Senegalese people. They pushed me. I'm from a very small village, Bambali, I'm sure they are all watching me on TV."

Mane scored 34 goals and produced 12 assists in 61 appearances last year, en route to winning the Champions League and leading Senegal to the African Nations Cup final, where they lost 1-0 to Algeria.

He picked up 477 votes to Salah's 325, with Mahrez receiving 267 votes.

Salah, who did attend the awards gala, took to Instagram to pay tribute to his Reds teammate, posting an image of Mane with the award and tagging him along with the words "Congrats bro".

Mahrez was also absent from the event as he was involved in his side's 3-1 win over Manchester United in the League Cup semi-final, first leg.

Despite missing the big prize, the 28-year-old's stunning free-kick against Nigeria in the semi-final of the African Nations Cup was selected as the Goal of the Year.

"Congratulations to Sadio, well deserved and sorry I couldn't come but I had to start scoring for the 2020 trophy. See you next year," Mahrez tweeted.

Former Liverpool left-back Jose Enrique added on Twitter: "What a player. What an amazing year is been for him and @lfc. For another year like this. Come on 2020!"

Ahead of the awards gala, former Arsenal and Chelsea star Cesc Fabregas picked Mane as the best player in the Premier League when he was asked the question on Twitter.