Sadio Mane has admitted he would swap Liverpool’s Champions League victory for success in the African Cup of Nations with Senegal.
Mane helped the Reds to their sixth European Cup success earlier this month, winning the early penalty that Mohamed Salah dispatched to set them on their way.
Salah will also be participating in AFCON for Egypt whilst Naby Keita will play for Guinea.
However, as Mane prepares for his first game in this years tournament, having missed Senegal’s 2-0 win over Tanzania through suspension, the winger has revealed how desperate he is to win the competition.
“It is up to us to achieve something great,” Mane told France Football.
“Of course we are one of the favourites, we cannot hide from that. But this standing is not enough to go all the way. Winning with my country, which has never won the Africa Cup of Nations, that would be magnificent.
“I am even ready to swap a Champions League to win an Africa Cup of Nations.
“The return to Dakar would be extraordinary. This is my biggest and most crazy dream.”
Reflecting on his career path, which started with a trial back in Dakar when he was a young hopeful, Mane said: “There were 200 or 300 youngsters who were waiting in line for their chance.
“It started badly for me because when I presented myself, I was laughed at.
“I did not look like a footballer. I was wearing pants that looked nothing like football shorts. And my football boots were completely shredded on the sides and had been repaired by me with wire the best I could.
“Those who oversaw the trials would look at me with a bizarre facial expression: ‘You really want to become a footballer?’
“I understood them but I did not have a choice. As I was not that bad, they took me. That was the beginning of my adventure.”
Senegal play Algeria on Thursday in their second group game.