Having been a runner-up on two previous occasions, Senegal star Sadio Mane was finally crowned African Player of the Year for 2019, and he has now revealed just how much winning the award means to him.
Just over a month after beating off competition from Riyad Mahrez and Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah to claim Africa's grandest individual prize, Mane told his club's official website that being named the best on the continent was always his dream.
"I would say the dream came true," the 27-year-old said.
"When I was young, I was always dreaming to be the best and this year I got it, so I'm really happy.
"I'm looking forward to performing well again, for my team especially, and win more. Especially since I'm playing for Liverpool – which is a very, very, very big club in the world – winning trophies with the team can give you some opportunities to win some trophies like this.
"For sure, you have to perform well to get this (award). I don't know if I'm doing well but I'm trying to do my best for the team and for the club!"
Mane was also quick to praise his family, friends and supporters in Senegal, whom he insisted inspire him to be the best footballer he can be.
"I can't describe how they are and how motivated they are especially, they always push me," he added.
"If you see those people, you push hard and harder to make them proud because it's the only satisfaction they have on it. I have to give back what they have done for me.
"I think it was something special for the village because in the village we had some great players but they were never successful.
"When I came to France and that time I was playing (in the) second league, the village never had the channel to watch the second league, so everybody was so excited to see me on TV, first of all!
"They were praying for me every day to see me at this level because they will be proud. How things are going and as I get more motivated and (they get) more excited to see me higher and higher, I think I have to sacrifice myself to make them proud."
Click through the gallery below to see the main award winners from last month's CAF awards ceremony
Mane had previously ended in second place for the coveted award behind Salah in 2018 and 2017, and third behind Mahrez and winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the year before.
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