Riyad Mahrez

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Riyad Mahrez
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H1216-0500-002, Adolf Hitler.jpg
Mahrez representing Algeria in 2014
Personal information
Full name Riyad Mahrez[1]
Date of birth (1991-02-21) 21 February 1991 (age 28)
Place of birth Sarcelles, France
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[2]
Playing position Winger
Club information
Current team
Leicester City
Number 26
Youth career
2004–2009 AAS Sarcelles
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2009–2010 Quimper 27 (1)
2010–2013 Le Havre II 60 (24)
2011–2014 Le Havre 60 (6)
2014– Leicester City 86 (24)
National team
2014– Algeria 24 (4)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 15:44, 15 May 2016 (UTC).
† Appearances (goals)

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 17:41, 29 March 2016 (UTC)

Riyad Mahrez (Arabic: رياض محرز‎‎; born 21 February 1991) is a professional footballer who plays for English club Leicester City and the Algerian national team as a winger.

Mahrez began his career as a youth player for French club AAS Sarcelles. He turned professional in 2009 with Quimper, where he played for only one season before moving to Le Havre, spending a total of three years with them, initially playing for their reserve team and then becoming a first-team regular. In January 2014, Mahrez signed for English side Leicester City, helping them win the Football League Championship and promotion to the Premier League at the end of his first season. In the 2015–16 season he was the Algerian Footballer of the Year, the PFA Players' Player of the Year, and was a member of the Premier League PFA Team of the Year as he helped Leicester City win the Premier League.

Mahrez made his international debut for Algeria in 2014 and represented them at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Early and personal life

Mahrez was born in Sarcelles, France, to an Algerian father and a mother of Algerian and Moroccan descent.[3] His father Ahmed was from Beni Snous, Tlemcen District.[4] Growing up, Mahrez would regularly spend his holidays in Algeria.[5][6]

Mahrez's father had played football in Algeria.[6] When Mahrez was fifteen, his father died of a heart attack. He reflected that "I don't know if I started to be more serious but after the death of my dad things started to go for me. Maybe in my head I wanted it more".[6]

Mahrez married his English girlfriend in 2015.[6] Their daughter was born later that year.[7]

Mahrez is a practising Muslim.[8][9]

Club career

Early career

Although often overlooked by teams due to his slender build, Mahrez developed ball skills that brought him attention.[6]

He joined AAS Sarcelles in 2004.[10]

In 2009, Mahrez joined CFA side Quimper from AAS Sarcelles, making 22 appearances and scoring 2 goals in his first season with the club.[11] While playing for Quimper he lived with Mathias Pogba.[10]

He joined Le Havre in 2010, turning down offers from leading French teams Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille to join them, being enticed by their youth system.[6] He initially played for their reserve team, Le Havre II, before going on to play 60 times and score 6 goals for the first team in the French Ligue 2 from 2011 until leaving in January 2014.[12][13] He criticised Ligue 2 for what he saw as a reliance on defence and teams aiming for a goalless draw in every match.[6]

Leicester City

File:Mahrez free kick 1 (16476351346).jpg
Mahrez taking a free kick away to Arsenal in February 2015.

While Mahrez was playing for Le Havre, English Football League Championship club Leicester City's scout Steve Walsh was monitoring teammate Ryan Mendes, but was instead impressed by Mahrez.[14] Mahrez had never heard of Leicester, whom he initially presumed to be a rugby club.[15] On 11 January 2014, he signed a three-and-a-half-year contract.[16][17] His friends and family were initially sceptical of a move to English football due to its physical nature, believing that his style of play would be more suited to Spain.[6]

Mahrez made his debut on 25 January 2014, coming on in the 79th minute as a substitute replacing fellow winger Lloyd Dyer, in the 2–0 win against Middlesbrough.[18] After making four substitute appearances for Leicester, including scoring his first goal for the club, an 82nd-minute equaliser against local rivals Nottingham Forest, manager Nigel Pearson announced in February 2014 that he thought Mahrez was ready to start games.[19] Leicester ended the season as winners of the Championship, returning to the Premier League for the first time in ten years.[20]

Mahrez made his Premier League debut on 16 August 2014, and scored his first goal in the division on 4 October 2014 in a 2–2 draw with Burnley.[21][22] Mahrez was part of the Leicester team that won seven of its final nine matches of the season to avoid relegation to the Football League. He scored both goals in a 2–0 defeat of Southampton on 9 May[23] and ended the season with four goals and three assists from 30 appearances.[24]

He signed a new four-year contract with Leicester in August 2015.[25] On 8 August 2015, Mahrez scored two goals in the season opener against Sunderland in a 4–2 home win.[26] He was later described as the club's "match winner" by captain Wes Morgan, following "superb form" which saw him score four goals in the first three games of the season.[27]

After scoring four goals in the opening four games of the 2015–16 season, Mahrez was nominated for the Premier League Player of the Month award.[28] By 3 November 2015 he had scored seven goals in 10 Premier League games.[29] On 5 December, Mahrez scored a hat-trick as Leicester defeated Swansea City 3–0 to go top of the Premier League, putting him on ten league goals for the season and making him the first Algerian to score a Premier League hat-trick.[30] Mahrez and his midfield partners Marc Albrighton, N'Golo Kanté and Danny Drinkwater received plaudits for their part in Leicester's early season run of form,[31] and manager Claudio Ranieri described Mahrez and forward Jamie Vardy as "priceless" ahead of the January transfer window.[32]

In January 2016 Mahrez's transfer value was said to have risen from £4.5 million to £30.1 million, ranking him among the top 50 most valuable players in Europe.[33][34] In the same year, Mahrez's popularity in his homeland led Leicester to have over almost three times as many Facebook fans in Algeria than in the UK.[35] The barbershop in Sarcelles that he frequented from his childhood became a destination for fans from as far as Belgium, desiring the same haircut.[10]

Mahrez was one of four Leicester players named in the PFA Team of the Year in April 2016,[36] and later that month he won the PFA Players' Player of the Year award.[37] He was the first African to earn the accolade.[38] When Leicester finished the season as champions, Mahrez became the first Algerian to win a Premier League medal.[39]

International career

In November 2013 Mahrez expressed his desire to represent Algeria internationally.[40] He was called up to the provisional Algerian squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[41] On 31 May 2014, Mahrez made his international debut for the Desert Foxes as a starter in a pre-World Cup friendly match against Armenia, and he was subsequently called up to the full squad for the tournament on 2 June.[42] The Algerian media were critical of his inclusion, and alleged that he had paid manager Vahid Halilhodžić for a place in the squad.[43][44] Mahrez played in the opening group game against Belgium, then was dropped for the remainder of the tournament, in which Algeria reached the last 16.[44]

On 15 October 2014, Mahrez scored his first international goal, as well as setting up Islam Slimani in Algeria's 3–0, Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Malawi.[45] In December 2014 he was announced as a member of Algeria's squad for the final tournament in Equatorial Guinea.[46] He featured in every game as they reached the quarter-finals, and opened a 2–0 win over Senegal in the last group game to send his team through.[47]

Career statistics

Club

As of 15 May 2016[11][12][21]
Club Season League Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Quimper 2009–10 CFA 27 1 27 1
Le Havre II 2010–11 32 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 32 13
2011–12 25 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 25 11
2012–13 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
Total 60 24 0 0 0 0 0 0 60 24
Le Havre 2011–12 Ligue 2 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 0
2012–13 34 4 4 1 1 0 0 0 39 5
2013–14 17 2 0 0 2 3 0 0 19 5
Total 60 6 4 1 3 3 0 0 67 10
Leicester City 2013–14 Championship 19 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 19 3
2014–15 Premier League 30 4 1 0 1 0 0 0 32 4
2015–16 37 17 0 0 2 1 0 0 39 18
Total 86 24 1 0 3 1 0 0 90 25
Career total 233 55 5 1 6 4 0 0 244 60

International

As of match played 29 March 2016[2]
Algeria
Year Apps Goals
2014 9 2
2015 13 2
2016 2 0
Total 24 4

International goals

As of 17 November 2015[48]
Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 15 October 2014 Stade Mustapha Tchaker, Blida, Algeria  Malawi 2–0 3–0 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification
2 15 November 2014 Stade Mustapha Tchaker, Blida, Algeria  Ethiopia 2–1 3–1 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification
3 27 January 2015 Nuevo Estadio, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea  Senegal 1–0 2–0 2015 Africa Cup of Nations
4 17 November 2015 Stade Mustapha Tchaker, Blida, Algeria  Tanzania 3–0 7–0 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification

Honours

Club

Leicester City

Individual

References

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