Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez made history on Sunday, when he was crowned “Player of the Year” by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) in England. In its existence for the past 24 years, there has never been an African recipient for the PFA award, despite the English league having many players of African descent in the past few years. Mahrez, having been involved in a total of 28 goals (17 goals and 11 assists) for the team and helping them close in on the Premier League title, was very deserving of the award.
An Algerian born in France, Riyad was “bought” by the foxes for a “paltry” fee of £400,000 – an amount regarded as one of the lowest transfer fees ever paid for a player. The winger, who is likely the least expensive player in history to win the award, is undoubtedly one of the best bargains ever in English football.
Many great African players have played in the English Premier League and have become household names. Names such as Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Kanu Nwankwo and J.J. Okocha ring bells that are easily recognizable by most Africans and football fans the world over. To imagine that none of these great individuals won this prestigious award is perplexing. It gets even more astonishing when you reconcile this with the fact that Mahrez, still very new to English football, has already been crowned the best player in England. He proves that hard work is a necessary prerequisite to success.
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“I’m very grateful to receive this award, it’s a pleasure. It’s extra special because if the players vote for me, it’s because they’ve seen I’ve been great this year so I’m happy. But it’s more team things. Without my teammates I wouldn’t get this award.” ~Riyad Mahrez
A bright future, together with a budding career, is envisaged for the 25-year old star, in his career with both Leicester City and the Algerian national team. Aside his glaring belief in hard work, Riyad Mahrez remains humble and does not rest on his laurels. He is definitely one to be proud of!