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Liverpool

Sadio Mane wins AFCON player of the tournament and copies Roberto Firmino’s celebration


Sadio Mane helped Senegal win the Africa Cup of Nations, scoring the winning penalty in the final, and the Liverpool forward was honoured with the player of the tournament award

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Liverpool forward Sadio Mane took a leaf out of club teammate Roberto Firmino’s book after leading Senegal to Africa Cup of Nations glory.

The former Southampton man saw a penalty saved by Egypt goalkeeper Gabaski in the opening minutes of the final, but stepped back up to put away the winning kick in the match-deciding penalty shoot-out.

Mane played his part throughout the tournament as Senegal went on to lift the trophy for the first time after near-misses in 2002 and 2019, scoring three times in the earlier rounds before his decisive moment in the final in Yaounde.

Player of the tournament recognition was just reward for a momentous achievement, which came at the expense of Liverpool teammate and Egypt star Mohamed Salah, and Mane paid tribute to another club colleague in the aftermath.

Were Senegal deserved AFCON winners? Have your say in the comments section

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Mane delivered Senegal their first ever AFCON title
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

Mane and Firmino have been Liverpool teammates since back in 2016, when the Senegalese star moved to Anfield from the south coast, playing countless games together.

Andwhen Mane was given his individual award to go along with the team honours, he couldn’t help but mimic Firmino’s ‘matador’ celebration, with footage of the tribute circulating far and wide.

It wasn’t the first time he has mimicked the Brazilian, but it was surely the biggest stage on which it has taken place.

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Mane has done his own version of the matador celebration before, in Liverpool colours, while also ‘copying’ Firmino’s trademark kung-fu kick.

However, when quizzed on the matter in 2018, the Senegal man revealed there was more to it than some had suspected.

“The fans deserve to know the truth,” he told Copa90.

“Firmino copies me, not me copying him! The kick was me. We try it in training. He scored and I was behind him, and he did it.

Mane brought out the ‘matador’ celebration

The matador is a Firmino original, though Mane questioned how long a player’s ownership of one celebration can last.

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“Bobby did that celebration two or three years ago, and I think he has had quite a few celebrations since,” he said in 2019.

Indeed, both players have cycled through a few more celebrations as they’ve kept banging in the goals in a Liverpool shirt over the years.

The celebration was a Firmino favourite as long ago as 2018
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Image:

PA)

There was a symmetry to Mane’s achievement at the tournament in Cameroon, with Senegal’s main man also scoring their first goal of the tournament from the penalty spot.

Mane also netted his country’s first knockout goal, in a 2-0 victory over Cape Verde in the last 16, and rounded off the scoring in their semi-final win against Burkina Faso.

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His club colleague Salah won’t have long to wait for a chance of revenge, with Senegal and Egypt drawn together in the qualifying play-offs for a place at the 2022 World Cup.

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