Riyad Mahrez

Biography of Riyad Mahrez, Desert Fox.

Riyad Mahrez is one of the most notable figures at the beginning of the English championship. His Leicester City confidently take the 4th place in the leaderboard and Mahrez himself, along with Callum Wilson, is heading the scorers race. Barcelona and Arsenal show interest in him. 4Gamblers.club tells about the Algerian winger, as nobody believed in his football success, except his father and Riyad himself.

Mahrez’s life tragedy

Ahmed Mahrez was 54 years old when his heart stopped. His second son Riyad was 15 at the time. It was 2006, and the distraught teenager promised then he would do anything to make his father proud of his son. It was his life tragedy and promise given to his father that hardened Mahrez character. His training, firmness and belief in himself became the main borderlines of his football talent.

First Steps of Career

Ahmed Mahrez did much for his son to improve as a football player. Riyad outgrew quickly the amateurish regional league level in Sarcelles, the Parisian suburbs. He was born and raised in that place, but still recalled the days when his father had always been there, in all his matches and trainings.

“My dad was always behind me, he really wanted me to become a professional football player,” – says Mahrez in a very good English. “He was always with me and came to every game to support me. He used to play for the amateur teams in Algeria and France, and he had something to advise me. His death probably became a push in my career. I do not know, why it happened, but I began to take football more seriously after his death. I guess some understanding appeared in my head. Understanding of how much he wanted me to fulfill his dream”.

Skinny but Skillful Mahrez

The path to his father’s ambitious dream was rather tortuous for Riyad. He played for the local team Sarcelles. It all took place in the area with social high-rise buildings for the Algerian and Moroccan immigrants with low career prospects. “We were definitely not rich, but you couldn’t call us poor,” says Mahrez. “My mother always came home from work with food and did so that we ate well.” Riyad is talking about food not for nothing. So many coaches doubted he ate well, looking at his skinny constitution. They allowed him to play football, but no one believed in the Riyad’s prospects as a professional player.

Mohamed Koulibaly, the Sarcelles technical director, agreed and said in an interview with L’Equipe last year: “He was very weak, but he never gave up and it paid off always. Riyad has something more than technique: he has the courage and character that are inherent in the great players.”

Speedy and contactless Mahrez

Even now Mahrez looks small enough to hide behind the bar if he wanted to hide. But he has become more powerful, and the speed is almost his main weapon. His dribbling is something that came together with the speed. It scares his opponents much and pleases his fans no less. The elusiveness is the quality that he had to perfect in the streets of Sarcelles. He just wanted to protect his feet from the more massive opponents. So this quality allowed him to get his first semi-professional contract in Kemper club.

“When you are thin or too small, you do not need to get involved in martial arts, “says Mahrez.” One coach at Kemper said to me: “You have to play contactless football and be smart enough because the force is not your strong point.”

Street football in blood

Mahrez considers canonical training in football academies to be flawed to such guys as him. The street taught football to Riyad, which allowed him to develop extraordinary thinking. In Leicester City he met the players who shared his opinion about the optionality of training in the large clubs’ football schools. As it turned out, Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante are the same people from an amateur football.

Mahrez: “We are not programmed. When you are at the academy, you hear from 9 am:” Do this, do that”. “And we just played our football. Sometimes you see me on the field, and it seems to you that I’m still playing in the street. It’s true as it’s in my head, nothing has changed. It brings something new for the team, it’s better to have many different qualities there, it’s a good combination. ”

Career development of Mahrez

The Algerian also showed himself very wise already in his younger years, when he made the right choice for his career development. Ambitions and lust for money never overshadowed his mind. When he was called to Paris Saint-Germain and Marcel after six months in Kemper, he did not think a minute. Riyad accepted Le Havre invitation from League 2. And he did so simply because the club was famous for one of the best systems in France for training young players.

Defensive playing practise in France

“I played in the U-21 team, but quickly became involved in the first team matches. It was very difficult for me to prove myself, because football in the French second division is very defensive. Sometimes it seems like everyone is playing 0-0. The first year was very difficult, but the second one was good. And I spent six months in the team and moved to Leicester City in the third season. My life is a developing step by step”, recalls a football player who does not prefer skipping steps in his career.

Career in the EPL

He took some time before moving to the English championship in 2014, but he was still convinced that was the right step: “Everyone said to me: “Riyad, England is not for you, there’s too physical football, too strong. Spanish football will suit you better. “To be honest, I never thought about playing in England. But I talked to my agent and he said this step would be a good test and the right choice for a career development.” I talked with my family and decided: “Okay, I’m ready.” And when I realized what the  English football really was, I really liked it. When I started training and playing, I thought to myself: what kind of fool I was when I doubted.”

Riyad Mahrez joined the Foxes

The Foxes showed devilish ingenuity when they signed Mahrez for €450 thousand. Now he is by times more expensive, progressing each match. So it is unlikely the Leicester team could buy the best player for such ridiculous money.

“The club gave me everything,” says Mahrez. “I got the Premier League and the 2014 World Cup. I played in the Championship, but we won so often they noticed me in Algeria. If I were still playing in the second division of France in 2014, no one would look at me.”

Riyad’s devotion to Desert Foxes

The footballer always wanted to play only for his father’s country, Algeria, despite the fact he was born in France, and his mother is the Moroccan. “I was in Algeria on vacation with my father and brother. Many of my family come from there. I lived in France and grew up there, my mother still lives there, but my heart is more Algerian.” It is interesting the Algerian national team is called Desert Foxes, and Leicester are the Foxes.
His devotion to the club also grew. He was saddened when his first club coach, Nigel Pearson, had been dismissed. It happened shortly after the club stayed in the elite by some miracle.

Nigel Pearson’s role in the career

“Nigel was like a father to me. When I came to England he always talked to me and gave me confidence, sometimes he shouted at me, but it was for my own good. I was disappointed when he left, because it was him who brought me here. In addition, he is a very good person, I hardly knew the new manager.”

Nevertheless, Riyad Mahrez scored five goals that season in particular with Claudio Ranieri. While Leicester still stay the fourth in the Premier League and remain the only team with no single defeat. “He works a lot with us on tactics, so I got better tactically. We need this, and he’ll give me a lot of responsibility and confidence, give the keys to the game.” He said: “Riyad, you have to do defensive work too”, because he wants me to be more comprehensive as a player. Ranieri talks a lot about the defense importance, it is easier to score goals than to defend.”

Under the Ranieri’s command

Ranieri, like Pearson, was opposed to expecting too much from Riyad Mahrez. The coach noted the player had come a long way from the French League 2 player to the Premier League in a short time. Ranieri substituted Mahrez after the first match half against Bournemouth with the words: “It’s harder for you to play, they blocked you. You will not always be the best on the field, there’s nothing to worry about.” The next match with Aston Villa Mahrez already spent all 90 minutes on the field. The team made an outstanding comeback and won the match, where the Foxes were losing 0:2. And the Algerian gave two assists.

The Heroe of Leicester City

Leicester became a real home for our heroe. He married an Englishwoman and signed a new contract with the club in summer 2017. He will play for the Foxes until 2019, despite the interest of Roma and Villarreal. There were even rumors about Barcelona and Arsenal, but Mahrez doesn’t care about this kind of thing. The football player understands there is no need to rush, and now he is well at Leicester City, where he still has so much to learn.