When Claudio Ranieri and Leicester City’s powers that be suggested that it might be too difficult for their Foxes foursome of Wes Morgan, N’Golo Kante, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez to attend the PFA Awards in London on Sunday night, due to playing against Swansea until 6pm, there was panic amongst the organisers.
When the PFA top dogs insisted (read: begged) that the four players were to be in attendance, there was particular emphasis on making sure that Algerian winger, Riyad Mahrez, was tuxedo’d up and making an appearance.
Translation: If our PFA Player Of The Year isn’t there, it looks a bit poor on our part.
— PFA (@PFA) April 24, 2016
Mahrez’s win isn’t one that will be argued too much – if at all – with the former Le Harve winger dazzling on a spell-bindingly consistent basis this season.
The Foxes forward has been the ‘maverick’ in Leicester’s controlled and disciplined plan this campaign, terrorising opposition defenders whilst Jamie Vardy does the running, N’Golo Kante does the industrious work and Wes Morgan does the organising; they allow Mahrez to ‘bring the madness’.
— CLICKON Soccer (@CLICKONSoccer) April 25, 2016
Mahrez joins a list of names that includes freaks of nature Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as some Premier League legends along the lines of Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Thierry Henry.
So what makes Mahrez’s win, compared to some of the games past and present greats, so much more special?
No big money move, no playing in a star-studded squad and no expectations that he’d be a success – especially after an underwhelming debut season.
Mahrez has grown as a player, learnt from his first season in English football, developed his game and taught himself how to become the best player in the top flight of English football.
The 25-year-old is the first player not from Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United to win the award since Alan Shearer in 1996/97 for Newcastle United.
Continue sticking it to the man, Riyad!
N’Golo Kante, Jamie Vardy or Harry Kane were probably going to be the closest to taking the Algerian international’s crown. However, even those three would surely have no qualms in conceding that Mahrez is a well-deserved winner.
Want to know how I know that there’s no issues with Mahrez winning with 99% of the footballing world? When the result was announced, the frustratingly annoying group chats that I/we can’t help but enjoy, all went off but, for once, there were no debates, no obscure shouts for Darren Fletcher or hipster claims for Alex Iwobi.
All participants in the respective groups were, for a split, peaceful second, all in agreement and, in that brief moment, I got a glimpse at what heaven is probably like.
No Tactical voting
Footballers are, like all us Brits, bitter and petulant souls when someone else enjoys success, it’s an upsetting trait of British culture. But a trait nonetheless.
Over the years, the Manchester United and Liverpool divide has caused tensions and splits in the England dressing room. Therefore, it’s a fair assumption that Steven Gerrard wouldn’t have received many votes from Gary Neville and Teddy Sheringham and Michael Owen were highly unlikely to have exchanged names on the voting form.
What’s great about Mahrez is Leicester are no one’s enemy, Mahrez isn’t a player with a lot of history or baggage. Mahrez has allowed, probably for the first time ever, a genuine, unified winner of the PFA – sure, every previous winner has been worthy, however, this one feels like one without bitterness, without snide tactics and one that contains just genuine delight for the Foxes winger’s success.
A refreshing change in the corrupt, dark, petulant world that is football.