Riyad Mahrez (born 21 February 1991) is a professional footballer who plays for English club Leicester City and the Algerian national team as a winger.
Although often overlooked by teams due to his slender build, Mahrez developed ball skills that brought him attention.
He joined AAS Sarcelles in 2004.
In 2009, Mahrez joined CFA side Quimper from AAS Sarcelles, making 22 appearances and scoring 2 goals in his first season with the club. While playing for Quimper he lived with Mathias Pogba.
He joined Le Havre in 2010, turning down offers from leading French teams Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille to join them, being enticed by their youth system. He initially played for their reserve team, Le Havre II, before going on to play 60 times and score 6 goals for the first team in the French Ligue 2 from 2011 until leaving in January 2014. He criticised Ligue 2 for what he saw as a reliance on defence and teams aiming for a goalless draw in every match.
In January 2014, Mahrez signed for English side Leicester City, helping them win the Football League Championship and promotion to the Premier League at the end of his first season. He signed a new four-year contract with Leicester in August 2015. On 8 August 2015, Mahrez scored two goals in the season opener against Sunderland in a 4–2 home win. He was later described as the club’s “match winner” by captain Wes Morgan, following “superb form” which saw him score four goals in the first three games of the season.
After scoring four goals in the opening four games of the 2015–16 season, Mahrez was nominated for the Premier League Player of the Month award. By 3 November 2015 he had scored seven goals in 10 Premier League games. On 5 December, Mahrez scored a hat-trick as Leicester defeated Swansea City 3–0 to go top of the Premier League, putting him on ten league goals for the season and making him the first Algerian to score a Premier League hat-trick. Mahrez and his midfield partners Marc Albrighton, N’Golo Kanté and Danny Drinkwater received plaudits for their part in Leicester’s early season run of form, and manager Claudio Ranieri described Mahrez and forward Jamie Vardy as “priceless”.
Mahrez was one of four Leicester players named in the PFA Team of the Year in April 2016, and later that month he won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award. He was the first African to earn the accolade. When Leicester finished the season as champions, Mahrez became the first Algerian to win a Premier League medal.
Mahrez’s father had played football in Algeria. When Mahrez was fifteen, his father died of a heart attack. He reflected that “I don’t know if I started to be more serious but after the death of my dad things started to go for me. Maybe in my head I wanted it more”.
Mahrez married his English girlfriend in 2015. Their daughter was born later that year.
In November 2013 Mahrez expressed his desire to represent Algeria internationally. He was called up to the provisional Algerian squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. On 31 May 2014, Mahrez made his international debut for the Desert Foxes as a starter in a pre-World Cup friendly match against Armenia, and he was subsequently called up to the full squad for the tournament on 2 June.
On 15 October 2014, Mahrez scored his first international goal, as well as setting up Islam Slimani in Algeria’s 3–0, Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Malawi. In December 2014 he was announced as a member of Algeria’s squad for the final tournament in Equatorial Guinea.