Mahrez takes helicopter ride to pick up PFA award

TEAM EFFORT: The Algerian international credits his award to Ranieri and club-mates.


    Apr 26, 2016

    Mahrez takes helicopter ride to pick up PFA award


    LEICESTER City's Algerian winger, Riyad Mahrez, on Sunday became the first African player to be named English football's Player of the Year, as voted for by his fellow professionals.

    The 25-year-old, French-born Algerian international - outstanding in Leicester's incredible charge towards the Premier League title - received the trophy at a lavish awards ceremony in London.

    Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli was named Young Player of the Year at the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) awards.

    Paying tribute to his team-mates, Mahrez, who succeeds Chelsea's Eden Hazard as the winner of the prize, told the ceremony: "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."

    Mahrez is the first African to win the award and just the second non-European, after Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, then of Liverpool, in 2014.

    A £400,000 (S$781,000) signing from French Ligue 2 side Le Havre in January 2014, Mahrez has contributed 17 goals and 11 assists to help put Leicester on the brink of becoming English champions for the first time.

    He had scored the opener in the Foxes' 4-0 thrashing of Swansea City earlier in the day at the King Power Stadium.

    Mahrez was then flown by helicopter to the ceremony as he pipped club colleagues Jamie Vardy and N'Golo Kante, as well as West Ham United's Dimitri Payet, Tottenham's Harry Kane and Arsenal's Mesut Oezil, to the award.

    Alli, 20, 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 was not there to pick up his prize as Spurs play West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League (this morning, Singapore time) but recorded a video message.

    "Sorry I can't be there tonight, but we have a big game tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who voted for me," Alli said.

    Manchester United great Ryan Giggs, now the assistant to manager Louis van Gaal, followed in the footsteps of his former manager, Alex Ferguson, by winning the PFA Merit Award.

    Manchester City midfielder Izzy Christiansen won the PFA Women's Player of the Year award, with Sunderland forward Beth Mead taking home the young player equivalent.