Q&ASadio Mane's farewell interview: 'I am now Liverpool's No.1 fan'
Sadio Mane will forever be an ardent Liverpool supporter following his transfer to Bayern Munich.
It was confirmed on Wednesday that Mane’s glittering six-year spell on Merseyside has come to an end, with the forward swapping Anfield for the Allianz Arena.
The Senegal international leaves as a bona-fide club legend.
His signing from Southampton in 2016 proved transformative as he immediately propelled Jürgen Klopp’s team to Champions League qualification and was duly a cornerstone of the glorious years that have followed.
Mane won six major trophies – the Premier League, Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and UEFA Super Cup – with the Reds, while he also inspired his country to their maiden Africa Cup of Nations triumph earlier in 2022.
Personal accolades have included the African Footballer of the Year and Premier League Golden Boot awards, while his record of 120 goals in 269 appearances for Liverpool puts him 14th in the club’s all-time leading scorers list.
After putting the finishing touches on his move to Bayern, Mane invited Liverpoolfc.com to Mallorca to conduct a farewell interview.
He spoke of his eternal love for all things Liverpool – the club and its supporters, as well as the city – while also reflecting on topics such as his Reds legacy, his development under Klopp, his favourite moment and goal and why he is looking forward to returning to Anfield one day.
Watch the interview now, or read a full transcript below…
Sadio, thank you for welcoming us to your home for this farewell interview. Your transfer to Bayern Munich is now complete, does it feel a little bit strange to say you are no longer a Liverpool player?
Yeah, for sure, for sure. Obviously it is strange – really, really strange – to no longer be a Liverpool player after six years spent at Anfield. But of course I had a great time, an unbelievable time, and since my first day I really, really enjoyed training, playing, at Anfield especially and in front of these amazing supporters. Now it’s come to the end, so what can you say?
There was a lot of speculation about your future towards the end of last season. Can you explain to us why you felt it was the right time to move on and try a new challenge?
Yeah, sure there was a lot, a lot, of speculation but I’m not a confused boy in my head. Obviously I know what I want and I know what is professional so for me, I was not even thinking about it because I was still a Liverpool player and we had really, really important games. For me that time was so, so important for myself and the team and the boys, and the supporters as well, and that is why I was really, really focused on that. I did not want [to make] any comments about it because winning the Champions League and the Premier League, that would have been fantastic for myself, for the club and for everybody. So that is why I was not even talking about or commentating about the speculation because it is part of football, it will always stay [this way]. It is normal.
Did you feel like you achieved everything you could achieve at Liverpool?
Yeah, sure. Like I said, from the first day I came to the club, I spoke to the boss when I was in Southampton and I think at that time we were not even in the Champions League. He called me and I said, ‘For sure.’ I just decided in my heart that I am coming to Liverpool because that is where I see myself and for me it was the right time and the right club to achieve everything. So, I can say of course we won a lot and I spent a great, great time there. An unbelievable time at Liverpool, we won a lot. Like I always say, my life is always [about a] challenge and when it came I said to the club that I want to leave, I want to go somewhere else to see a new challenge. It is not anything else, it is just a challenge because for me I want to always be challenging myself to get better and better.
You mentioned the boss there. Have you spoken to Jürgen and any of your now-former Liverpool teammates to say goodbye?
Yeah, sure. After when both clubs agreed [the transfer], I sent a long text to say goodbye to everybody, which is normal. They were sad, as I was, but it is part of life. We just have to accept it.
Was it very important to you to leave Liverpool on friendly terms with everyone, from the coaches and players to the staff and the supporters?
Yeah, of course! That was the plan from the beginning because for me, to leave Liverpool in a very good way, that is me because how I have been there. It was fantastic in the club, in the dressing room. I am friendly with everybody, the coaching staff and even the kitchen staff, the ladies in the kitchen! So, for me leaving in a good way is so, so important – and [for] the fans as well.
How have you grown and developed as a footballer and a person since you signed for Liverpool six years ago?
Wow! Incredible, incredible because when I came I think I was 24. I was not that old like now! But yeah, sure, I think I have developed as a human a lot and as a footballer I learned a lot from my teammates of course, these great, great, great players. And of course the staff helped me a lot to become the player [I am] and as well, I work very, very hard. Very, very hard.
During your Liverpool career, you won every club trophy there is to win, as well as AFCON with Senegal this year, African Footballer of the Year, the Premier League Golden Boot… when you arrived in 2016, did you ever dream you would, or could, achieve so much?
I will say that when I was a kid that was my dream, to win everything possible: trophies and individual trophies as well, that was my dream. So that is the reason I never stopped working, I am a very hard worker. Of course, for me it was the right time and the right club, when I was in Southampton, to come to Liverpool to achieve those things and I can say, ‘Yeah, I achieved something’, which is very, very incredible for me and I will be always grateful for this amazing club. I will never forget it and for sure I am looking forward for the next.
This is a very difficult question as there are so many to choose from, but if you had to pick one favourite moment from your time with Liverpool, what would that be?
Wow! I think it’s good but not a difficult question I will say! I will go first of all for 2019 when we beat Barcelona at home, that was incredible, and as well when we won the Champions League. For me, so far that is the best, best moment, or the moment that will stay forever in my head, for sure.
You leave in 14th place on the club’s all-time leading scorers list, with 120 goals in just 269 games. That puts you among some of the greatest players to ever represent Liverpool – it must make you feel very proud to see your name on that list?
[Laughs] Yeah, for sure! I am very, very proud about it. It was not easy for sure and to see your name among these great, great players, I think you can’t complain! You just have to be grateful and thankful and proud of yourself because Liverpool, it is one of the best clubs in the world so to see your name there, I think is just incredible.
So, those 120 goals then… which one was your best and which one is your favourite?
Wow! I will say my first goal at Emirates Stadium against Arsenal on my debut. And then after, my second goal, I will say against Bayern Munich, against Manuel Neuer! Sorry Manu, I am coming but I think the second goal was also unbelievable! So, I will pick these two goals.
Talking of goals, we have to mention the famous ‘front three’ of yourself, Bobby and Mo. You’ve talked so much about how amazing it was to play with them but now you have left, can you share any of the secrets behind your success? Why and how did you three link up so well?
[Laughs] Wow, for sure, Bobby and Mo – what players! I think there are no other secrets because playing alongside these great players, they make everything easier for me. I think I am just supporting this and especially Bobby, who always dropped and made space for me and Mo, I think it was just incredible. These two players, Liverpool still have great players and you have now Diogo and Diaz also – wow, what a player they have! But it’s normal, it’s the best club in the world, so I wish them all the best, but for me football is always about dedication and to work very, very hard. That’s what I trust and those players did it and are doing it, so I think it will work always well for them.
Another relationship we have to talk about is yours with the manager. How much have you enjoyed working with Jürgen and how has he helped you as a player and as a person too?
Yeah, sure, I think since day one [when] I spoke with him to join Liverpool FC I think we had a really, really, really good relationship and [he is] a great manager. He has heart and also like I said now, he dedicated himself [and that] makes him so special. Of course, he helped me a lot to become the player I am, and the staff and all the boys, the players. And myself, like I always said, I never stopped working hard as well.
You enjoyed an incredible final season at Liverpool, winning two trophies and going so close to the quadruple. I think all fans would say it was one of their best and most enjoyable seasons because of the journey you and the boys took us on. Do you feel that way too?
Yeah, sure. I think it was a great, great, great season. Unlucky for us, we were so, so close but of course still I think it was the greatest season and the [most] enjoyable season I had in Liverpool because I can say we were almost there to win the quadruple, which would have been amazing. But it is part of football, like I always said it is behind us so let’s focus – both sides – on the next. But for sure, I think that was just an amazing, amazing season anyway, which everybody enjoyed.
You have mentioned the supporters a few times during this interview. You are loved at Anfield, you have your own song, you have brought the fans so much joy over the last few years. They showed again how much they adore this group of players at the parade a few weeks ago. Just how much will you miss them?
For sure, I think whoever is leaving Liverpool, with those supporters you will always miss them because so far [they are] the best in the world and I have always said it. Especially when [they sing] my name, ‘Mane! Running down the wing…!’ – I don’t know, I can’t sing very well! Of course I really enjoyed the time and they, wow… how can I say it? Playing at Anfield I think always gives you so much power because of the fans. So, for sure I am going to miss you guys but anyway, I love you guys. I still have my house in Liverpool and everything so for sure I will come back, of course, and I would love one day to come back to Anfield to say hi to them and of course to watch Liverpool playing because for me, I am going to be Liverpool’s No.1 fan – after the supporters!
That was my next question actually: Are you a Liverpool fan for life now then? Will you keep an eye on the results and how the team is getting on?
[Laughs] Yeah, of course! After every game! After every one of my games in Munich I will come to the dressing room and I will watch Liverpool, for sure, because I am going to be Liverpool’s No.1 fan forever. I just want to say good luck to them and I have an eye on them. And for sure they will be even better because I know the boys: great players, great talent, great maturity and attitude, so of course, Liverpool will always stay even better, for sure.
You said before about coming back to Anfield one day… who knows, we might see you again soon if Liverpool and Bayern meet in the Champions League…
[Laughs] You know the Champions League and how the draw always goes on, it can happen for sure and if it happens it happens. It is football and of course I have to come and I have to play. But like I said, Liverpool is Liverpool and we will see. We will see what is going to happen.
Finally Sadio, you leave Liverpool FC as a legend and one of the best players to ever play for the club. So on behalf of the club and, I’m sure, the supporters who are watching or reading this interview too, thank you for everything you did for us and we wish you very good luck in the future.
Thank you, thank you. Thank you guys, much love still, don’t worry! Bye, all the best!