Sadio Mane has revealed the controversial choice of the player he idolised growing up – and the name is unlikely to go down well with Liverpool fans.
El-Hadji Diouf, the much-maligned Senegal striker, played on Merseyside between 2002 and 2005 – and current Liverpool favourite Mane says he was his favourite growing up.
Mane’s choice may come as a shock to Reds fans, who look unfavourably on the man who was brought to Anfield by Gerard Houllier from Lens in 2002.
Diouf, the only No 9 in the club’s history to go a season without scoring, was unpopular with team-mates and opponents alike after spitting at a Celtic fan during a 2003 UEFA Cup tie. To add grist to the mill, he regularly publicly criticises Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard and often clashes with another club legend, Jamie Carragher.
But Mane has revealed it was Diouf’s exploits for Senegal at the 2002 World Cup that catapulted him into his affections.
“When I was young I was watching El-Hadji Diouf as he was one of my heroes,” Mane told the Premier League.
“He also played for Liverpool and he was a big motivation because he was a great player for [Senegal].
“He was one of the best players ever in Senegal.”