By Abdi Ali
Published January 2, 2016
Riyad Mahrez of Algeria is the BBC African Footballer of the Year for 2016.
Mahrez, a winger for Leicester City Football Club, beat four other nominees to win the award. Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who plays for Borussia Dortmund; West Ham’s Ghana attacking midfielder Andre Ayew; Liverpool and Senegal striker Sadio Mane; and Manchester City’s Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure, had been nominated for the award whose winner is determined by public votes.
Mahrez’s win was revealed in a live broadcast on BBC Focus on Africa TV, radio and online on December 12, 2016.
Among Mahrez’s fetes that informed voting fans to select the 25-year-old Algerian for the BBC award are that he not only scored 17 goals in the 2015/2016 season and enabled Leicester win its first English Premier League title after 10 years but that he is the first African to be voted Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year; his contribution enabled Algeria to qualify for the 31st Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON or CAN) in Gabon in 2017.
Sixteen teams are expected to gather in four Gabonese cities–Libreville, Franceville, Oyem, Port Gentil–for this biennial men’s football tournament scheduled for January 14-February 5, 2017.
So who is Riyad Mahrez and how did he get into football?
Riyad Mahrez was born in France in 1991. While his late father was Algerian, his mother is of Algerian and Moroccan descent.
Mahrez is reported to have been involved in soccer from his youth when he played for a team called AAS Sarcelled.He turned professional at the age of 18.
He signed for Leicester City in January 2014 and represented Algeria during the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.