Holy Father. Ahmed Mahrez’s story, whose death has made his son the best football player of England
Problems with police, clay instead of a football field and extreme poverty – that’s what the best player of England has come through.
The middle-aged man lies in a hospital bed. There is a tube in the throat, with needles in veins. The woman with the tiresome outlook and two skinny teenagers are standing nearby. The cardio monitor fixes the last blows of heart of the Algerian immigrant. A medical scribble in the patient’s record of illness is developed in words on the back of a bed: “Ahmed Mahrez. Heart attack, remaining in a coma”.
Ahmed was caught up by destiny
it is quite problematic as a matter of principle to run for a long time with such state of heart. But Mahrez kept more than 30 years – from the day when doctors in Tlemcen (the city in Algeria) have told the 23-year-old guy that his “engine” is going to stop any time and he won’t be helped by any doctor in the whole country. There was no necessary equipment in Algeria. Mahrez, coming back home, looked at his native village of El-Medina in a different way. He passed the playground where he used to play for the local team against professional Algerian clubs, the school which implanted the interest to mathematics and helped to enter the institute for an engineer. Childhood’s places floated in order to remain forever in the past. Ahmed went to pack things. He had the ticket to Paris in a pocket, and in a breast, near the heart there was a hope for a great future.
The capital of France has twinkled in front of Ahmed’s eyes in the window of a bus heading to Sarsel, a small town in the north of the Parisian suburbs with the population of 58 thousand people. The settlement bathing in beams of the African sun was replaced by a dullness of high-stored buildings and faces of the unemployed immigrants. They were eternally dissatisfied, hated the state which was suppressing their countries for centuries, and then thrown into poverty, hated the cops who were still patrolling Sarsel day and night, and in the afternoons searching for tramps, junkies and gangbangers. Ahmed has grown up during the war in Algeria for independence, but never took part in meetings and mess-ups.
Mahrez had interest only in algebra and enjoyed his new life in France.
His job as the electrical engineer in a city service steadily brought money, the local amateur team has accepted with pleasure the nimble halfback, with Pierre Richard cheerfully wriggling on TV and a brand new pacemaker working steadily in his breast.
And Ahmed was fond of the “Olimpik” game of from Marseille those years . Mahrez moved to France in the early seventies, when there was a breakthrough of the Provincials – five trophies, including two champion’s titles, during the period between 71st on the 76th years. Admiration of the “Olimpik” game will remain with Ahmed for the rest of his life and will develop into dream that his sons will put on a white-blue uniform.
Ahmed has got acquainted with the Moroccan Salihui and soon married in the mid-eighties.
They had already 2 kids by the 91st – the senior Vahid and newborn Riyad. When Riyad was eight, Ahmed and Salihui got divorced. Children remained with mother, the father has moved down to the neighboring house, but regularly spent time with children. Salihui got a job for pennies as the cleaner in the Parisian policlinic so the brothers could have all necessary.
Both parents worked in the capital, spending long hours for their way to work.
Brothers grew in one of the most criminal and poor regions of France at that time – Sarsel is still one of the leading in ratings of drug addiction, murders, disorders and clashes with the police. 25% of the of the commune population conclude Jews, besides, the great number of Palestinians lives there which resulted in 40% of unemployment among youth. Sarsel still frightens by the secret life which flows within the panel multi-stored buildings.
Severe rules of the street life
For instance, there were fights with cops because of collision of the police car with the motorcycle, as a result, two teenagers have died in 2007. The immigrant youth of the Parisian suburbs has taken to the streets, armed with Molotov cocktails and shot-guns. As a result of the disorders in Sarsel, 82 police officers have been injured. The unknown has thrown the grenade into local Jewish shop in fall 2012 – later the police discovered that it was one of the ISIS organization fighters forbidden in Russia who was shot in Strasbourg in attempt to organize an act of terrorism. And after the ban on meeting against actions of Israel in Gaza in 2014, there were organized some youth actions in Sarsel who attacked synagogues.
On Sarsel’s streets the youth fought. Mahrez’s age-mates. He was never involved in crime by the example of his father, but grew with those people, saw them on the streets, played with them in soccer. Perhaps, someone from those who burned police cars trained together with future star of Leicester in the sports Center named after Nelson Mandela.
Mahrez made his first steps in the Nelson Mandela training camp
The local section has been replaced by the club academy. Riyad was incredibly talented and persistent, but he was also very lucky. The matter is that the Mandela’s Center is well-known for training of swimmers and karatekas. Here was the largest pool of department Val-d’Oise – a densely populated area of the central part of France (the 17th place on population density out 95 departments), – which prepares an Olympic team for swimming, and the section of karate of Sarsel was recognized in 2006 as the best in France. Only four pupils of the Center, including Mahrez, have achieved success in professional soccer: Jean-Manuel Thetis played for Marseille and Sevilla, Cédric Sabin appeared in a heap of the French clubs, has gone to Turkey and the USA, and Philip Christanval raised dust in Barcelona. The former Catalan defender at the end of 2000’s has presented to the Center a new synthetic lawn for what the field was called in his honor. So Mahrez who trained on the erased covering with clay and stones on the field was very lucky to join to those four.
Mohamed Coulibaly was at the head of football section about 15 years.
The coach very strictly treated pupils and when Ahmed has dragged his 12-year-old son, Mohamed wasn’t impressed at all with tricks of the skinny boy who flew away from a ball at any contact. Mahrez didn’t worry, didn’t think of professional career seriously and kicked a ball for his pleasure. But I kicked constantly. The brother Vahid loved soccer too, but preferred to pick up some girl and go to a tavern. He often met the brother who even after trainings went to play with an adult men on the asphalt playground. If there was an evening without a domestic match, then the boy just exercided his shots on a house wall. Brothers could come across as at 9 PM (on the way of the senior to a party), so at 12 midnight in his way back (when Vahid came back home).
Riyad’s age-mates were drug-addicts, were busted on thefts and robberies, entered the underground organizations of the right character – Mahrez kicked a ball, without thinking of anything. So three years passed until their mother took her sons in one of evenings and brought to a hospital – 54-year-old Ahmed was caught up by the disease. Mahrez Sr. died, without regaining consciousness.
All his life Ahmed dreamed that he would bring up the football player.
Later on, Riyad used to say more than once that the death of the father forced him to become a professional player. But the poor electrician hasn’t seen how his son lifted high weights till four in the morning, hanged around some shady clubs seeking for his better living, as he appeared in Leicester, married the English woman and became the best player of Premier league. Lingering peep of the cardiomonitor in his hospital ward was the last sound in Ahmed’s life.
But any father would give life for the execution of the son’s dream. That’s how it happened in the Mahrez’s family.