January 9 – Senegal’s Sadio Mane has apologised for not visiting his homeland before returning to Liverpool after being named African Player of the Year.
The 27-year-old striker received the award at a ceremony in Egypt on Tuesday and was due to go on to Senegal the following day as part of the celebrations – with the country’s president Macky Sall due to attend.
Mane told Liverpool’s website: “It was my plan to first fly to Senegal to thank the people of my country and recognise them for everything they have given me on my journey, but unfortunately we were unable to make the visit. It is true I am disappointed I was unable to return home to say thank you because of some problems beyond our control.”
Liverpool stated that “travel disruption beyond both his and the club’s control” meant that Mane could not make the trip, though he will do so as soon as possible “in recognition of the support many in his country had given him on his journey towards receiving the prestigious prize”.
Mane is the first Senegalese player to win CAF Player of the Year since El Hadji Diouf in 2002 – who was also playing for Liverpool at the time.
According to some reports, the Dakar festivities were called off after the plane Mane was due to travel on did not get the necessary permission to fly over Tunisia.
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