Sadio Mane has told Goal he always felt destined he would play for Jurgen Klopp after the Liverpool manager finally secured the services of a long-term target this summer.
Mane moved to Anfield in June for £30 million from Southampton and has made a flying start to his career in a red shirt.
The Senegal international has scored six goals in 10 Premier League appearances and gone on to form a formidable frontline partnership with Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.
Klopp tried to sign Mane while he was manager of Borussia Dortmund and took a keen liking to the talents of the then-Red Bull Salzburg winger.
“I was so excited. I couldn’t believe it — that he wanted to meet and thought I could help his team, who were so good. I used to watch them all the time,” Mane said about Klopp’s interest when he played in the Austrian Bundesliga.
“Things didn’t work out back then and it was frustrating, but that’s life — nothing just comes easy.
“I told myself to just carry on working hard, push myself and something big would come. I did that. I went to Southampton, I played well and then, Klopp wanted me again.
“Now I’m lucky enough to be working with one of the best managers in football. It was meant to happen and I am very happy to be learning all the time from him.”
Mane, who is set to compete in the African Nations Cup with Senegal in January, has helped Liverpool reach the top of the Premier League after 11 games.
The 24-year-old puts the Reds’ strong start to the campaign down to the collective spirit within the dressing room at Anfield and the club’s training ground, Melwood.
“A good thing for footballers is not to think too much, especially when you’ve got to move to a big team like Liverpool, because that’s when you start to confuse your mind,” Mane added.
“In my head, I knew I was coming to a team that wanted me, to a manager who knew me well, and I was coming to work hard and to help.
“That is all I focused on, not how things would go or what could happen — good or bad. I left my mind open and was ready for anything. I’m very happy to be part of a team with big, big talent with everyone working for each other.
“It makes it easy for a player when you’ve got really good teammates and when everyone wants the same thing.”