Sadio Mané says his parents told him that they thought football was a waste of time and that he should become a teacher instead.
Mohamed Salah might have scored most of the headlines last season with his incredible goalscoring form and Roberto Firmino might be the most important player at the club but Sadio Mané is as indispensable as anyone at the club right now.
Up until February, many believed the Senegal attacker was having a terrible season and yet the 26-year-old finished the campaign with 20 goals and 9 assists from 44 appearances.
However, had Mané listened to his parents when he was a teenager, he might never have become a professional footballer.
“I was born in a village where there had never been a footballer who’d made it in the major championships,” Mané told Bleacher Report.
“I remember that when I was little, my parents felt that I should study to become a teacher. They thought football was a waste of time and I’d never succeed at it.
“I always said: ‘This is the only job that will enable me to help you. And I think I have a chance to become a footballer.’
“They weren’t sure about it because I was a long way from the capital and almost nobody from there had succeeded. So they were against the idea, and they never believed it, right up until the day when I signed my first professional contract.”
Mané says his parents eventually supported his chosen career path but admits that they were partially correct as it wasn’t a straightforward path to the top.
“For them, it wasn’t possible. They weren’t exactly wrong because it really wasn’t straightforward, but I wanted to realise my dream of becoming a footballer,” Mané said.
“I gave it everything. It got to the point where they didn’t really have a choice, so they started helping me, and it worked. Today, they’re all proud.”