Terry Paine believes Southampton forward Sadio Mané would be a worthy winner of the 2015 BBC African Footballer of the Year award.
Senegal international Mané has made it onto the final five-man shortlist for the prize, with supporters having until 6pm GMT tomorrow to vote for their favourite.
Paine, who is Southampton Football Club’s honorary president, also works as a pundit on television in South Africa, broadcasting across the continent.
“I think Sadio would be a worthy winner,” he said. “One minute you’re playing in Austrian football – it’s not a backwater, but it’s not one of the top levels – and to transfer into what is the most competitive league certainly in Europe and to achieve what he has done I think has been pretty remarkable.”
Mané is joined on the shortlist by two more Premier League players in Yaya Touré, of Manchester City/Ivory Coast, and Andre Ayew, of Swansea City/Ghana – both of whom have won the award before, in 2013 and 2011 respectively.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund/Gabon is also shortlisted, as is FC Porto’s Yacine Brahimi – the Algerian is the current holder of the prize, having won it in 2014.
Paine believes Aubameyang and Mané are the stand-out names on the list of nominees.
“I think Mané will run him very close,” he said. “He’s got the fastest hat-trick in the history of the Premier League, as well as ten goals and five assists in 30 Premier League games this year – all for a player who’s not really an out-and-out striker.”
Paine, who believes there has been a notable improvement in Mané’s link-up play over the last year, added: “When you go through the names of the African Footballer of the Year, you will see some outstanding players who have won it, so to be recognised among that company I think for Sadio will be a dream come true.
“Certainly, he has got to be there or thereabouts, and the more votes we can get for him the better. It would be lovely if he could win it.”
You can vote for Sadio Mané here. The winner of the 2015 African Footballer of the Year award will be announced on Friday 11th December.