London, April 25 (IANS) Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez has won the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Player of the Year award for scoring 17 goals and 11 assists in 34 English Premier League (EPL) games.
The Algerian on Sunday held off competition from West Ham United midfielder Dimitri Payet, Tottenham Hotspur forward Harry Kane, Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil and fellow Leicester men Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante to win.
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli, 20, was named PFA Young Player of the Year, while Manchester City forward Izzy Christiansen won the Women’s Player of the Year award.
Sunderland striker Beth Mead, 20, was named Women’s Young Player of the Year.
Mahrez has been instrumental in driving Leicester to the cusp of their maiden title. The 25-year-old 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.
Mahrez dedicated the success to his teammates. “All the credit is for them, seriously,” Mahrez told PFA website. “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 teammates I wouldn’t get this award.”
Mahrez was flown down by helicopter to the ceremony from the King Power Stadium, where Claudio Ranieri’s side had earlier thrashed Swansea 4-0 to move eight points clear at the top of the table.
“The secret has been team spirit,” Mahrez said. “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.”
Alli was named the PFA Young Player of the Year after registering 10 goals and 12 assists in his debut campaign in the EPL.
The 20-year-old beat teammate Kane to the prize, as well as Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho and Everton duo Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley.
Alli was unable to collect the award in person, with Spurs hosting West Bromwich Albion on Monday, but Ossie Ardiles picked it up on his behalf.