Leicester City playmaker Riyad Mahrez collected the PFA Player of the Year award on Sunday night.
Mahrez is enjoying a wonderful season for the Premier League leaders – having scored 17 goals and claiming 11 assists.
The Algeria international has played an integral role for Foxes as they close in on a remarkable title triumph and was duly rewarded with the top individual award of the night at the Grosvenor Hotel in London.
Claudio Ranieri’s side need just five points from their remaining three games to be crowned champions of England for the first time in their history.
Mahrez was on the scoresheet earlier on Sunday as the King Power Stadium outfit thumped Swansea 4-0 in the Premier League, and was flown down by helicopter after the game to the London ceremony.
The forward beat Leicester team-mates Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante to the award as well as Tottenham stiker Harry Kane, Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil and West Ham revelation Dimitri Payet.
Vardy came second in the voting, while Kane was third. The Leicester striker also collected a special award for his record-breaking streak of scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League matches.
‘All the credit is for them, seriously,’ Mahrez said as he dedicated his success to his Leicester team-mates.
‘And for my manager and the staff. Without them I wouldn’t receive this award and I wouldn’t score. It’s the team spirit, and I want to dedicate it to them.
‘I’m very grateful to receive this award, it’s a pleasure. It’s extra special because if the players vote for me it’s because they’ve seen I’ve been great this year so I’m happy.
‘But it’s more team things. Without my team-mates I wouldn’t get this award.’
Mahrez has been instrumental in his team’s remarkable rise and he now joins a glittering list of former winners that includes Kenny Dalglish, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
Some bookmakers had Leicester at 5000/1 to be crowned champions at the start of the season, but, with three games left, they stand on the brink of arguably the greatest shock in English football history.
‘The secret has been team spirit,’ Mahrez added.
‘We work so hard for each other. We are like brothers, it’s everywhere on the pitch. That’s our strength.
‘If sometimes we are not good, we know we are going to run and make the effort for our team-mates. That is the secret of our success.’
The 25-year-old is only the second winner of the PFA award from outside Europe. Uruguay striker Luis Suarez won it in 2014 while playing for Liverpool.
Unlike Suarez, Mahrez was an unknown when he moved to England two years ago, joining Leicester from second tier French side Le Havre for less than £500,000.
On Thursday, it was announced that Mahrez was named among a four-man midfield by the PFA as they revealed their 2016 Team of the Year.
Elsewhere, Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has been crowned with this season’s PFA Young Player of the Year award.
The 20-year-old has enjoyed a wonderful breakthrough campaign with Spurs as they sit second in the Premier League table.
Alli has scored 10 goals and provided a further nine assists for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
The England international beat Everton duo Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku, Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho and Tottenham team-mate Kane to the award.

READ ALSO  Conte questions Chelsea’s ability to defend EPL title