Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has played a vital part in Sadio Mane’s transformation from decent winger to world-class forward, but the two’s relationship almost got off to a bad start after the German’s first impression of the striker.
Klopp initially tried to sign Mane from RB Salzburg back when he was Borussia Dortmund head coach. The German coach was eager to bring the Senegalese striker to the Signal Iduna Park, and went as far as meeting with him in person.
However, when they met in person, Klopp was unhappy with Mane’s dress sense, and joked that he looked like a rapper. Mane is now famous for his down-to-earth personality and his charitable work, and Klopp joked in 2020 that he was happy to be proven wrong about the star.
Klopp believed, at the time, that he would be unable to help Mane progress in his career and develop as a player. But in his five years at Anfield, the forward has scored 120 goals in 269 games, becoming a fan favourite in the process.
The Liverpool boss explained: “I remember my first encounter with Sadio. It was in Dortmund. There was a really young guy sitting there. His baseball cap was askew, the blond streak he still has today.
“He looked like a rapper just starting out. I thought: ‘I don’t have time for this’. Our team back then really wasn’t bad. I needed someone who could handle not being a starter at the very beginning, someone I could develop.
“I’d say I have a pretty good feeling for people, but was I wrong! I further followed his career and continued success at Salzburg. In Southampton he just dominated. It was great. Sadio wanted to work with me as much as I did with him so it was a win-win situation.”