Algeria international on Monday beat off competition from Yaya Toure, Sadio Mane and Perre-Emerick Aubameyang to win the 2016 BBC’s African Player of the Year.
This adds a new taste to the variety of successes recorded in 2016 so far by the Leicester City attacking midfielder who before now have had an English Premier League winners’ medal and Professional Footballer’s Association Player of the Year – the first African to win it – all sitting pretty in his showroom.
“It means a lot, it’s something big for African players so I am very happy and I am very proud,” began the 25-year-old “It’s always good to receive awards and for Africanplayers it’s a huge honour. To all the fans, thank you very much…”
The former Le Havre player joined Leicester City for a we-can’t-believe-our-luck fee of £400,000 in 2014, together with French man N’golo Kante and England forward Jamie Vardy propelled The Foxes to an unexpected EPL title last May despite riding on the odds of 5000-1. Mahrez scored 17 goals and provided 11 assists during the fairy tale campaign.
Even at the very zenith of European football, Mahrez has continued to prove himself, scoring 4 times in his first 5 Champions League games thereby helping Claudio Ranieri’s men top their group despite appearing in the UEFA Champions League for the first time.
On the international scene, Mahrez has continued to shine and his two goals and five assists played a key part in helping The Fennecs qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Gabon. Little wonder the world football governing body FIFA included him in this year’s 23-man shortlist for Player of the Year award. He is the only African on the list.
By winning the BBC award, the Algerian has therefore etched his name on a special list of the best of talents to have emerged from Africa. The likes of Jay-Jay Okocha, Abedi Pele, Didier Drogba and George Weah at one time, were all recipients of the said award.