Algerian international and Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez has become the first African footballer to win the Professional Footballers Association player of the year award as voted for by his fellow professionals.
25-year-old Mahrez, outstanding in Leicester’s incredible charge towards the Premier League title, received the trophy at a lavish awards ceremony on Sunday, in London.
Mahrez is not just the first African to win the award but the second non-European, after Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, then of Liverpool, in 2014.
The Algerian is enjoying a wonderful season for the Premier League leaders – having scored 17 goals and 11 assists in the top flight so far this season. Mahrez beat fellow nominees and team-mates Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante, along with Harry Kane, Mesut Ozil and Dimitri Payet to the award.
Mahrez, who succeeds Chelsea’s Eden Hazard as the winner of the prize, paid tribute to his team-mates at the ceremony saying;
“All the credit is for them, seriously. And for my manager (Claudio Ranieri) and the staff. Without them I wouldn’t receive this award and I wouldn’t score. It’s the team spirit, and I want to dedicate it to them.”
“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 team-mates I wouldn’t get this award.”
Unlike Suarez, Mahrez was an unknown when he moved to England two years ago, joining Leicester from second tier French side Le Havre for less than £500,000.
On Thursday, it was announced that Mahrez was named among a four-man midfield by the PFA as they revealed their 2016 Team of the Year.
At the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) awards, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli was also named Young Player of the Year.
The 20-year-old has enjoyed a wonderful breakthrough campaign with Spurs as they sit second in the Premier League table. Alli has scored 10 goals and provided a further nine assists for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
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Alli held off competition from Kane, Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland, Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho and Everton duo Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley to take the young player gong. He joined Tottenham from third-tier Milton Keyes Dons in 2015 and was expected to be used sparingly in his first season at White Hart Lane.