African football’s growing influence in Europe was confirmed after Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended on
Salah had gone into the final day’s Premiership action on 22 goals, two ahead of his two closest challengers.
The Egyptian failed to score on Sunday in the 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, but instead his Liverpool teammate, Senegal international Mane, netted a brace, which saw the Reds ending the season just a single point behind champions Manchester City.
Aubameyang, meanwhile, was also on target twice on Sunday, in a 3-1 win over Burnley which was not enough to lift Arsenal into the top four.
Argentina and Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero came closest to challenging the trio, with 21 goals in 33 league outings, including one on Sunday against Brighton.
Mane’s 22 goals came in 3086 minutes (36 games) of Premier League action, while Salah took 3262 minutes (38 matches) for his tally. Aubameyang needed just 2731 minutes (36 games), making him technically the most lethal of the winning trio – with a strike-rate of 124 minutes per league goal.
Aubameyang, 29, has also scored eight goals in the Europa League (with the final still to come) and one in the FA Cup. He maintains, though, that the team will always come before personal success.
“I share this trophy with two other guys I like, great players and African. We are representing Africa, that’s cool,” the Gabon international said after his goals at Turf Moor.
“I am happy we won, and I am sharing this trophy with two other guys I like. My teammates knew about the Golden Boot, I said nothing. I did not want them to play and only focus on me. I am a team player.”
Salah has netted four in the Champions League so far, but did not score in domestic cup competitions for Liverpool. Mane has an identical record in English and European cup competition this season.
This is the fourth year (since the Premier League’s formation in 1992) that an African player has won the Golden Boot.
The 26-year-old Salah did it last year, with 32 goals – the highest tally in a 38 match season (Alan Shearer and Andy Cole each scored 34 goals in league season, but that was in a 42-match campaign). Former Chelsea and Ivory Coast marksman Didier Drogba won the award in 2007 and 2010.
After playing in the Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur on June 1, Salah will turn his attention to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and will be hoping to help Egypt lift the trophy on home soil, for what would be the Pharaoh’s eighth triumph.
Egypt are in Group A, with the DR Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The 27-year-old Mane’s Senegal side are in Group C, alongside Algeria, Kenya and Tanzania.