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African All Stars

Desire Azankpo: From Mane’s 'chauffer' to Bayern Munich reserve team

4:46 am AEST 2/8/22
Sadio Mane
Having spent his time in Germany driving his best friend to training, the former Oldham forward has earned a contract with the Bavarian giants

Until last weekend, Desire Segbe Azankpo drove his best friend Sadio Mane to Sabener Strasse, Bayern Munich’s training centre every morning.

As Mane went onto the pitch for training, Azankpo drove away, although he is also a striker himself.

Azankpo has been without a club for over one month after he was let go by French third-tier side Dunkerque and kept himself busy by driving his friend to training sessions in Germany.

But everything changed last week after he was handed a two-year contract with Bayern’s resave team coached by club legend Martin Demichelis after he impressed in trials according to Germany's Sport Bild.

Mane and the Benin striker go back to their days at Generation Foot in Senegal where they both honed their skills before they moved to Ligue 1 side Metz in 2012.

But while the Senegalese superstar impressed and earned moves to Austria with Red Bull Salzburg, before switching to the Premier League with Southampton and Liverpool, Azankpo ended up in the reserve team and began his journey into the lower tier leagues in France, England, Slovakia, Romania and Luxembourg.

He will soon be able to play in the Bavarian regional league for Bayern II, and maybe one day, line up against his buddy in the senior team.

In an interview with Lookcharms early this year, Azankpo explained how they have always kept in touch with Mane full of ambition since they met.

“He [Mane] always had big ambitions. He always wanted to go as high as possible. He comes from a poor background, like all of us,” said Azankpo.

“And we said to ourselves that we have to succeed in order to help the family, to take over, because there are people behind who are hungry,” he added.

“Sadio has always dreamed very big. And I remember when he spoke to me about the Senegalese selection, he wanted it so much.”

The striker has seven caps for Benin and was part of the Squirrels team for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

Mane joined Bayern this summer in a deal worth €32 million after six successful years at Liverpool that yielded 120 goals in 269 appearances as well as a Premier League, Champions League, FA and League Cups.