London, United Kingdom | AFP |
Algerian international Riyad Mahrez’ dynamic performances in Leicester’s remarkable Premier League title win last season garnered him the prestigious BBC African player of the year award on Monday.
The 25-year-old France-born forward — who earlier this year became the first African to win the Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year award on the back of his 17 goals and 11 assists for Leicester — beat fellow nominees Yaya Toure, Sadio Mane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Andre Ayew.
The winner was chosen by fans from across the world.
“It means a lot, it’s something big for African players so I am very happy and very proud,” he told the BBC.
“It’s always good to receive awards and for Africans this is a huge honour,” added Mahrez, whose father is Algerian and mother of Moroccan/Algerian descent.
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri was in the audience and expressed his delight.
“He is improving every day,” the Italian told the BBC.
“I don’t speak about his quality. I speak about his sacrifice, he has fought for the team because it is very important for us to be together.”
Mahrez, who cost the Foxes — then managed by Nigel Pearson — just £400,000 when they bought him from French outfit Le Havre in 2014, joins legends such as Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba and Liberian George Weah who have won the award.