Riyad Mahrez is a French-born Algerian soccer player who has recorded a successful football career since 2009. He is one time Algerian Footballer of the Year, PFA’s player of the Year, and a member of the Premier League PFA Team of Year for the 2014-2015 English football season. In 2016, Riyad went ahead to win the African Footballer of the Year award for the first time.
Currently playing for Manchester City Football Club in England, Mahrez is a very determined and focused player, who has soared above the expectations of many. He also played for the Algerian National team but was dropped in 2018 when the team failed to take home the African Football Cup in 2018. Let’s look into his life, achievements and latest updates.
Riyad Mahrez Biography
Riyad Mahrez was born Riyad Karim Mahrez on 21 February 1991. He was born to ex-footballer Ahmed and Saliha Mahrez and is of Algerian descent. He was born in the greying suburb of Sarcelles, Paris, France alongside his three siblings; Wahid, his elder brother who has been very supportive of his football career and two sisters, Innes and Dounya.
His parents divorced when he was young and at the age of 15, he lost his father. The loss was grave and had a devastating effect on Riyad because his father was a pillar of support in his career pursuits. However, instead of succumbing to grief, Mahrez utilized his pain as a drive to plunge fully into football. He recalls that his father’s wishes were for him to become a professional footballer of which he did years later. His father died of a heart condition.
The Algerian footballer kick-started his football journey in 2004 as a teenager when he played for a local French club, AAS Sarcelles in its youth set-up. He turned professional in 2009 when he joined Quimper FC. He participated in the Quimper trial squad with 20 other teenage players. At that time, he had a very slender stature and wasn’t physically attractive in terms of what a football scout would be looking out for (physique-wise) in a potential pick.
However, at the end of the trial, he was the only player chosen by Quimper even though he still had a hard time there. His initial struggles with the side were due to the fact that Riyad Mahrez had no academy training but was a street ball player who lacked tactical skills. Skepticism trailed his acceptance as a Quimper player, as its club manager contemplated if Mahrez actually deserved the spot.
Regardless of these doubts, he had strong character and regarded the experience as a mild annoyance. Riyad Mahrez proved his doubters wrong with his good dribbling skills and other abilities at the club. He played for the French club for a whole season, with a total of 29 appearances and 14 goals.
Mahrez would later metamorphose into a smart and more focused 18-year-old and signed up of another French club, Le Havre. He spent a prolific season playing for their B-side and then their reserve team before moving up to become a first-team regular in January 2014. He made over 60 appearances for the team, scoring 21 goals and providing five assists from the right side of the midfield.
As his performance grew better, he caught the eyes of English side, Leicester City. Under Nigel Pearson, Riyad was signed in 2014 and he started his rise to fame in Leicester as he became one of the club’s superstars in no time. He helped the club which was playing in the second tier of English football at the time to win the English Football League (EFL) Championship thereby securing a spot at the Premier League (EPL) with four goals at the end of his first season.
Riyad blazed across global headlines in 2015- 2016 with his skills and creativity with 17 goals that took Leicester City to its historical EPL title, their first top-flight success in their 132-year history. The predominantly left-footed footballer’s performance with the Foxes (Leicester City FC) caught the attention of the Algerian National team. Fulfilling his longtime dream, Riyad Mahrez made his debut appearance as an Algerian team player on June 2, 2014, and was part of the team’s squad at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Controversy ensued following his selection as part of the Algerian football team to play in the 2014 World Cup as the Algerian media accused coach Vahid Halilhodzic of collecting a bribe from Riyad Mahrez so he could be part of his team. However, with his selection, he became the first Leicester player since Muzzy Izzet in 2002 to play at the FIFA football fiesta.
Latest Updates on the Footballer
At club level, his career at Leicester City came to a halt in 2018 when he was signed by Manchester City on a five-year contract on July 10th, 2018 with a transfer fee of £60 million, making Riyad the most expensive African Footballer and most expensive Manchester City signing in the history of the club.
He disclosed his desire to win the UEFA Champions League with Manchester City. He made his debut with Manchester City against Chelsea on 5th August 2018 in the curtain raiser for the 2018/2019 season – the FA Community Shield. However, the match ended in a defeat for him and his new side as Chelsea were 2-0 winners on the day.
That defeat notwithstanding, he enjoyed good form with Manchester City who has maintained a good standing in the EPL that season. Riyad Mahrez played his part with his expansive play, work rate, goals, and assists. He recently announced that his best is yet to come at Manchester City as he aims to take the club to greater heights. Following his successful career so far, he is estimated to be worth a whooping sum o $53 million.
Is Riyad Mahrez Married? Wife
Manchester City winger, Riyad Mahrez is married to his English girlfriend, Rita Johal. The duo got married on August 16, 2015, in a private wedding devoid of media presence. He is a father and has a lovely daughter called Inanya, born in late 2015. Rita is said to be expecting another child soon.
Rita Johal was born in Gravesend, United Kingdom, although her birth date is unknown. She is a model who prefers to stay away from media spotlight, however, she is gaining recognition by being Kim Kardashian‘s look-alike. Rita is a supportive wife and has helped Riyad Mahrez settle in London after he left France and she also taught him the English language. She is also known for sending supportive messages to her husband through her Instagram page.