Sadio Mané was born in the town of Sédhiou, Senegal, on 10th April 1992 and spent his youth playing street football in the Casamance (south) region of the country.
Confident in his ability to forge a path in the game, Sadio announced his desire to leave school at the age of 15, a request to which his parents reluctantly agreed. Supported by his uncle, Mané moved to the city of M'bour, located to the south of Dakar where he played in a youth academy with links to French club FC Metz.
It was here that he caught the eye of a youth coach by the name of Olivier Perrin at Metz by, who was able to arrange the move to Les Grenats. After a couple of months of settling into Europe, Mané soon made the step up into the first team of the French Ligue 2 outfit during the 2011/12 season.
At the end of his debut campaign, Mané had made over 20 appearances and scored 2 goals, which earned him an international call up to the Senegalese national side in May 2012.
He played 79 minutes of a 1-0 defeat to Morocco, before being replaced by West Ham’s recent recruit Cheikou Kouyaté.
Although unsuccessful in that game, a first international goal soon followed for Mané when he found the back of the net in a 3-1 win over Liberia in a World Cup qualifier played in Dakar.
Mané’s form ensured that he was included in Senegal’s 2012 Olympic football team later that year, where again he impressed as Les Lions de la Teranga progressed to the Quarter-Finals of the London Olympics before exiting to Mexico.
Senegal qualified from their group alongside Team GB, who they held to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, with Mané assisting the visitors’ goal, as well as coming up against new Saints teammates Ryan Bertrand and Jack Cork.
In the following match, Senegal beat a Uruguay side containing Gastón Ramírez by 2-0 with Mané again playing the full 90 minutes.
With his reputation ever-growing, the winger returned to Metz after the Olympics with a clutch of European teams chasing his signature. Mané opted to join Red Bull Salzburg on the final day of the 2012 transfer window, commenting: “Given how young I am, I thought that it would be an ideal club in which to work, learn and improve.”
His arrival in Austria for around €4m was rewarded with 16 goals in 24 matches, as he finished third in the Austrian Bundesliga scoring charts at the end of season 2012/2013, with Salzburg finishing the year as runners-up to the league title.
They went one better last season, by landing both the league title and the Austrian cup, with Mané adding a further 13 goals and 13 assists in 33 league matches, while he took his total tally up to 45 goals in 86 appearances all told for the club.
A further three goals came for the Senegalese national team in this time against Niger, Uganda and Mali as the versatile winger, who can also play as a second striker, showed no signs of slowing down with his contribution to games.
After Salzburg’s early exit from the Champions League this season to Malmö, Mané signalled his intentions to leave, and again there was no shortage of suitors interested in his signature, before Ronald Koeman got his man to St Mary’s on the September deadline day of 2014.