Football fans have been left shattered for Senegal's Sadio Mane after the Bayern Munich star was ruled out of the entire FIFA World Cup in Qatar with injury.
It had been hoped that the best player from the African champions would be able to return from a leg injury to feature at some point in Senegal's group stage campaign.
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However, the country's football federation has confirmed the news that no football fan wanted to hear, that the former Liverpool forward would take no part in Qatar.
Mane's club Bayern Munich said the 30-year-old - who was voted second in last month's Ballon d'Or - had undergone "successful surgery" in Innsbruck where "a tendon was reattached to the head of his right fibula".
The German giants added that the player would begin his rehab in Munich "in the next few days", with his absence a massive blow to Senegal's chances in Qatar.
Mane famously scored the winning penalty in a shootout victory against Egypt in the African Cup of Nations final and repeated the feat against the same opponents to qualify the Lions of Teranga for the World Cup.
He was voted African footballer of the year for his feats, and has scored 33 times in 92 matches for a Senegal side that many considered dark horses to go on a run deep into the World Cup tournament.
News that the dynamic forward has been ruled out of Qatar has left football fans gutted around the world, with messages of support for the player flooding social media.
Devastating news to hear Sadio Mane has not recovered and will miss the World Cup.
Red or former Red, You’ll Never Walk Alone. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/xCD31xu6mm
— Samuel (@SamueILFC) November 17, 2022
I am so sad you are not able to play in The World Cup. It will not be as good without you playing for Senegal. Recover soon. YNWA.
— Scouse Helen(Helen Drinoczky) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (@scousehelen) November 18, 2022
That’s very sad. Sénégal with Mané could have gone really far in this World Cup. But I am sure that Sadio will still be a amazing player in 4 years. Now let’s hope Sadio come back against PSG
— Mamacita 🇲🇺🇫🇷 (@VeeraShai7) November 17, 2022
— BozoDoesTheDub (@BozoDoesTheDub) November 18, 2022
— Adam Knights (@AdamKnights04) November 17, 2022
Absolutely gutted for sadio mane
— Neil B (@BIGBADDERS) November 17, 2022
Heartbreak 💔 for Sadio Mane as he loses his battle to be fit for the World Cup finals. Awful news for one football's genuine good guys. https://t.co/thfMD5JB9b
— Graeme Bailey (@GraemeBailey) November 17, 2022
Senegal confirm that Sadio Mane will miss the World Cup.
Heartbreaking 💔 pic.twitter.com/5NkDDFsrQO
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) November 17, 2022
Sadio Mane 'irreplaceable' for Senegal
Mane picked up his shin injury playing for Bayern earlier this month but was named in the World Cup squad in the hopes he could regain fitness in time for the second or third of Senegal's group stage games.
"Unfortunately, today's (Thursday) MRI shows us that the improvement is not as favourable as we imagined and unfortunately we have to withdraw Sadio from the World Cup," Senegal's team doctor, Manuel Afonso said in a video on the official Senegal Twitter account.
The African champions begin their World Cup campaign on Tuesday, November 22 (AEDT) against the Netherlands, with further games against hosts Qatar and Ecuador in Group A.
Senegal football federation chief Augustin Senghor told reporters in Qatar there was no panic over the loss and that Mane's health had been paramount in their decision.
"We have been ready for this since the news of his injury. We had been waiting for new test results and when they came in we all agreed his health had to come first," Senghor said.
In an indication of just that Mane's loss means for his country, Senegal teammate Pape Gueye described the Bayern superstar as "irreplaceable".
"But we do have other options on the flank, and that's a ray of hope on a dark day for Senegal," Gueye added.
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