Sadio Mane has described winning the Africa Cup of Nations as “more important” to him than any silverware at domestic level, having won the trophy with Senegal.
He has been named in the CAF Team of the Year four times, the PFA Team of the Year three times, the African Footballer of the Year once, won the Premier League Golden Boot and been shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or.
But Sunday night saw him reach the pinnacle of his career as he scored the winning penalty to earn Senegal their first-ever AFCON trophy.
It came at the expense of his Liverpool team-mate, Mohamed Salah, with whom he has shared many of his biggest moments, as Egypt suffered a 4-2 shootout defeat.
“It’s the best day of my life and the best trophy of my life,” Mane told BBC Sport after the game.
“I won the Champions League and some [other] trophies but this is the special one for me. This is more important for me.
“I am happy for myself, my people and all of my family.”
Mane’s comments should not be interpreted as disrespect towards his club and the achievements he has enjoyed over five-and-a-half years with Liverpool so far.
Instead, they speak to the importance many players hold in representing their country – particularly, it seems, those outside of Europe such as Mane, Salah and Naby Keita.
The scenes around Cameroon and Senegal following the win over Egypt show how much it means to the nation, who had previously never won AFCON.
Mane helped Senegal reach the final in 2019 only to suffer a 1-0 defeat to Algeria, producing a flat display after a long campaign with Liverpool that ended with triumph in the Champions League.
Before that final, Mane professed that he would trade his Champions League winner’s medal for the AFCON equivalent, but now he has both – a player whose world-class ability is proven with both club and country.