The countercultural figure of the Africa Cup: who is Riyad Mahrez and why does he say that “Messi is the boss”
I was 15 when Ahmed, his father, suffered a fatal heart attack. Riyad Mahrez, a racy southpaw who used to dodge mishaps in Sarcelles, a city that invited doom, felt the world crumble.
“He took me to every game, he wanted me to be a footballer. He had played on small teams in Algeria and France. As a child, I laughed a lot, tried to have fun, to have fun all the time. I don’t know if I started to get more serious, but after my dad’s death things started to work out differently. Maybe my head wanted something else”.
The multicultural crack is 30 years old, he grew up in a suburb north of Paris. His father was 54 years old and Algerian. His mother, Saliha, who accompanies him everywhere, as if he were a bodyguard of affection, is of Moroccan origin. In honor of his dad, he acted from the heart: refused the invitation from France, dressed in Algeria, much more than its flag.
“I used to go on vacation every year to Algeria. I have a lot of relatives in that country. I lived in France, but my heart is Algerian”Says one of the figures of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN), which will be held in Cameroon from this Sunday until February 6, after being postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is already suffering the ravages of the coronavirus with dozens of soccer players who have tested positive for the virus.
And that caused an existential vacuum in the main leagues in Europe: the giants feed on the heat of the most postponed continent, beyond Salah (Egypt) and Mané (Senegal), the stars of Liverpool. It will be the “good European” championship.
He is the captain and figure of The Desert Foxes, the current champion, which in July 2019 beat Senegal 1 to 0 and they were consecrated after 29 years. The leader of the pack scored three goals in 7 games. Now, in the previous stage, Riyad scored three goals and handed out three assists in all four games. Contested in the qualifying phase with the team led by Djamel Belmadi. Integrate Group E with Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guine and Ivory Coast.
Don’t build the Christmas tree, does not invest in gifts on Christmas Eve to little Inaya. He is a Muslim (practitioner) and even went to Mecca in 2017, together with a group of friends. His life is prayers and left-handers, beyond that it suffers the ravages of fame, like some celebrities. It happened months ago, when he was pointed out by Rita Johal, his ex-wife.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City was hired in July 2018, coming from Leicester, Cinderella, for almost 68 million euros. He was one of the architects of the Premier League won in 2016 by Leicester. A princes’ tale never written, initialed by the goals of Jamie Vardy and the dribbling of the Algerian. In the City it went from the basement of the intermittences to the explosion. He shared a dressing room with Nicolás Otamendi and Kun Agüero, was mistreated in public by Pep – always energetic when giving directions – until he gained his trust. “We had talked at halftime about the way he wanted us to play. He did not do well and well, these things happen …”, The driver had assured.
Time heals wounds. “He played the last games at a high level, scoring goals and giving assists. Riyad has been very strong mentally, focused and has done a great job. It also helps in defense. It’s a pleasure to watch him play”, Catalan tends to express. But the problems – the serious problems, beyond the runs through the right sector, changed leg -, were expressed in tabloids tabloids. Broken heart.
When the City owners deposited him 186,733 euros a week, the crack changed his personality, according to Johal in The Sun. “The loving, humble and caring Riyad disappeared. I can’t comment on other people’s lives, but moving there changed my husband. Riyad Mahrez let the fame go to his head. It changed when he went to Manchester City ”.
In the last hours, it was learned that he married the model Taylor Ward. All the guests dressed in white, as a Muslim ceremony, known as Nikah, was performed.
The emotional swings did not break him. The rise in his career was so dizzying, he doesn’t have time to look aside: In six years, he went from playing in underground leagues – the AAS Sarcelles, Quimper, Le Havre … – to writing the encyclopedia of the life of the Premier League: the olympic lap of Leicester. There he became famous.
Claudio Ranieri He was the first great man to trust his spark, which is why he was the first to greet him when they slammed the door. The results do not admit scars. He wrote on Twitter: “You believed in me from day one. Thanks for everything and good luck. God bless you. Great respect for this great man who helped us make history. You helped me become a gamer and gave me the courage I needed”.
He was right. Many pointed out to him that English football was not for his physique, that he used to fall like a feather at the first setback. However, the more he lay down, the faster he got up. This is what he remembers about his father: knowing how to get up and follow the destiny of his heart.. Maybe today, he would be world champion. Yet Mahrez guides his own destiny.
Months ago, on the Manchester City You Tube channel, in a section dedicated to children, he told which three forwards are the best of all time. Leo Messi was second, behind… Fat Ronaldo. As it was, it ranked third.
“Upstairs I start with R9, Ronaldo, the Brazilian. Messi behind him. And I also get to me. Messi would be with me to dribble and give it to Ronaldo so I can finish. It would be a great society in the field “, said the author de 100 goals in English football: 48 at Leicester City and 52 at Manchester City.
He could have fulfilled the dream of his life: to play with the Flea, when Barcelona took the keys from him. However, he does not lose faith. When he refers to Rosario, his gaze is transformed. “When they mention Messi and my name in the same sentence, it is something incredible, because for me, he is the best of all. Can’t say anything about him, he’s the boss. I always watch his home games on TV because I really like how he plays ”, he defines him. Leo is his other religion.