Riyad Mahrez has been named PFA Player of the Year for his majestic contribution to Leicester City’s mind-boggling Premier League season. Mahrez beat team-mate Jamie Vardy into second place at Sunday’s ceremony, while Tottenham striker Harry Kane was third.
N’Golo Kante, Mesut Ozil and Dimitri Payet were the other three players to be nominated.
Leicester have notoriously made pre-season title odds of 5,000-1 look foolish as they have swept all before them to lead the league heading into the closing stages of the campaign.
Mahrez, with 17 goals and 11 assists in 34 games, has been one of the driving forces behind Claudio Ranieri’s title tilt, especially leading a cavalier first half of the season at the King Power Stadium.
Match-winning turns against Sunderland on the opening day, away to West Brom, Swansea City and Everton, not to mention his twinkling display when champions Chelsea were put to the sword on home turf and his stunning goal at Manchester City have made the 25-year-old a star.
Mahrez is Leicester’s first-ever winner of the award and also makes history by becoming the first African player to pick up the accolade.
The Algeria international is also the first winner not to play for Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham or Manchester United since Newcastle United’s Alan Shearer in 1997.
Mahrez paid tribute to his Leicester team-mates and coaching staff after being presented with the trophy.
“All the credit is for them, seriously – without my team-mates I wouldn’t get this award,” he said. “If sometimes we are not good, we know we are going to run and make effort for our team-mates. That is the secret of our success.
“Without them I wouldn’t receive this award and I wouldn’t score. It is the team spirit and I want to dedicate it to them. It is also thanks to my manager and the staff.
“I’m very grateful to receive this award – it is a pleasure. It is extra special because if the players vote for me it is because they have seen I have been great this year, so I’m happy.”
Elsewhere, Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli was named Young Player of the Year, Jamie Vardy received an award to recognise his record 11-game Premier League goalscoring streak and Ryan Giggs received the PFA Merit Award.
-Report by Omnisport-