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Jan 7 (Reuters) - Sadio Mane was named African Footballer of the Year for 2019 on Tuesday after winning the Champions League with Liverpool and leading Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final.
Mane, 27, wins the award for the first time after finishing runner-up to his Liverpool team mate Mohamed Salah of Egypt in 2017 and 2018. He was third in 2016.
He is only the second Senegalese to win the award after El Hadji Diouf, who was the winner in 2001 and after joining Liverpool in 2002.
“Football is my job, I love it. I am really happy and proud to win this award,” Mane said.
“I would like to thank all the Senegalese people, they push always me. I must also thank my (Senegal) coach, Aliou Cisse and Liverpool, all my team mates there.”
Mane finished ahead of Riyad Mahrez and Salah in a poll of national team coaches and captains, and was handed his award at the Confederation of African Football’s annual gala in Hurgada, Egypt.
It is the second successive year that the top three are all from English clubs and only the third time since the award was introduced that the leading trio all play in the same league.
In 1991, the top three all came from French clubs.
Mahrez, 28, captained Algeria to Africa Cup of Nations success in July and won the Premier League with Manchester City. He was African Footballer of the Year in 2016. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson and Nick Said Editing by Toby Davis)