The Senegalese star of Liverpool, Sadio Mane, claiming the title of best player in the world, says his ambition to win the Golden Ball France Football despite the competition of the behemoths as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
RFI: Sadio Mane, what a goal Saturday against Aston Villa! (Editor's note: the Senegalese scored in the 94th minute to give Liverpool a 2-1 victory in the 11th day of the Premier League).
Sadio Mane: Thank you! It was really not easy. We were led 1-0. I think in the first half we did not play well and we were punished. We came back in the second half. We pushed together, we created a lot of opportunities and we scored two goals. Even though it was not our best performance, I think we deserved the three points.
And what a start to the season for you too, with already seven Premier League goals …
It's not bad yes! (Laughs) I try to give the best every day, whether in training or in a match, to help my team. I'm here and I'm going to try to continue to score more goals and give more assists to my teammates.
"If things are not going well with Salah, we tell ourselves"
You make such an early season when you have had very few holidays. With the CAN, you have not rested much …
Yes, I did not have much rest. But you know, sometimes, fatigue is in your head. Psychologically, I do not worry. As long as I can help my club or my selection to progress.
A little over three years ago, some Liverpool fans were not for your arrival. Today, all of you have adopted?
At first, it was not obvious, it's true, but since my arrival in this city, I feel at home. The supporters show me their sympathy and I try to give them back to the field.
What about your complicity with your teammates, with your coach Jurgen Klopp?
It is obvious that one must be accomplices. We have just spent three, four years together. We know each other well, we help each other by rectifying each other every day. The coach is like "my dad". He even intervenes in my private life. I like it, he has his way of getting the best out of everyone. He is a real coach.
Is your relationship with Mohamed Salah good or are you both pretending?
No, it's not a question of pretending. We are not people who pretend. I try to be very honest and do things naturally. I think it shows. Everything comes naturally, nothing is forced at home. Some things can happen on the ground or outside. When we live together everyday, it happens. But Mohamed (Salah) is someone I respect and we have very good relations on and off the pitch. If things are not going well, we say to ourselves and after, it's okay. That's life.
The Ballon d'Or France football will be awarded on December 2, you believe it?
All footballers dream of the Ballon d'Or, I am no exception. Many names come back. I leave it to the jury who will make the final decision.
Several Fifa The Best titles were awarded to other players in September and not to you. You do not talk about it, you do not show it, but we imagine your deep disappointment, right?
Disappointment ? (Laughs) Not at all, not at all! I said it, I will say it again: the players who were named made a very beautiful season too, exceptional. It's a strong signal to me that I give myself fully, whether in training or in the field, so that I can be chosen one day.
"Racism has no place in football"
And the African player of the year awarded by the CAF, do you think it will be the right one for you this time?
It's the same as for the Ballon d'Or France Football. I was lucky to be on the podium three times. I will continue to fight to finish at the top, on the highest step. I can not tell you that this year is the right one. But I will fight to the end.
You have been called by the Senegal coach Aliou Cisse to play the first two matches counting for the qualifiers of the CAN 2021. After the final 2019 lost (0-1) against Algeria, the ambition is to finally win the trophy in 2021?
I think it is a little early to talk about winning the CAN 2021, even if we know that it is the absolute dream of all Senegalese. We work there and once at the CAN, we will be there to win. But before, there is first qualifying and the first match against Congo at home (November 13 in Thies) must win.
This match will be played in Thies (70 km from Dakar). For you who are used to good lawns in Europe, what does it make you to evolve on that Lat Dior stadium that does not look like that of Anfield Liverpool?
First of all, it's a good thing to decentralize the national team's matches. The selection belongs to everyone. Thies succeeded us the last time when we played against Madagascar (2-0), we will try to do the same against the Congo. You know even if the lawn is not as good as in Anfield, we have no choice, we will do with it. I take this opportunity to appeal to our authorities to put in place a more passable lawn.
One last question, your compatriot Kalidou Koulibaly was again victim of racist cries this weekend in Italy during the match AS-Naples. What does it inspire you?
It is deplorable! Racism has no place in football, I think it's time for it to stop. We are all equal.