Riyah Mahrez, first Algerian to win CAF African Player of the Year after 30 years Leicester City of England player and Algerian International, Riyad Mahrez has broken the 30 years jinx by being the next Algerian to pick the African Best Player of the Year since 1987. Sensational Algerian striker, Rabah Madjer who ruled African football in the 80’s won the trophy in 1987. But Mahrez made history Thursday night as he was crowned the 2016 African Footballer of the Year
at the glamorous Glo-CAF Awards held in Abuja,Nigeria.After some moments of suspense, his name was announced before a packed audience at the Glo-CAF Awards
gala held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. He beat 2015 winner, Gabon and Borussia Dortmund of Germany player, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Sadio Mane of Senegal and Liverpool FC to pick the coveted crown.
Indeed, this is his season of awards. Mahrez was the Algerian Footballer of the Year in the 2015–16 season, the 2016 PFA Players’ Player of the Year in England, and was a member of the Premier League PFA Team of the Year as he helped Leicester City win the Premier League last year.He began his career as a youth player for French club AAS Sarcelles. He later turned professional in 2009 with Quimper, where he played for only one season before moving to Le Havre, spending a total of three years with them.
He initially played for their reserve team before becoming a first-team regular. Mahrez signed for English side Leicester City in January 2014, helping the team to win the Football League Championship and promotion to the Premier League at the end of his first season.
Mahrez made his international debut for Algeria in 2014 and represented his country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2015 Africa
Cup of Nations. One of the high points of the night was the presentation of the CAF Platinum Award to President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria. He was represented by the Sports Minister Mr. Solomon Dalung.
The trophy and certificate were presented by CAF President, Alhaji Issa Hayatou Globacom and the Kaduna State Deputy Governor, Professor Hafiz Abubakar.Nigeria won four awards at the event, namely Women’s national team of the year which went to the Super Falcons, Most Promising talent won by Kelechi Iheanacho, Youth Player of the Year picked by Alex Iwobi and Woman Player of the Year won for the second time by Asisat Oshoala.
Winners in other categories include Dennis Onyango who won the Africa Player of the Year, based in Africa, the Referee of the Year won by Gambia’s Bakary Gansama, national team of Year won by Uganda, Club of the Year won by Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and Coach of the Year which went to Pitso Mosimane of Mamelodi Sundowns.
The Football leader of Year went to President of Guinea-Bissau Football Federation, Manuel Lopez Nacimento while the legend awards were picked by Emile Mbonu and Laurent Pokou.In his message to the continent at the event, Globacom’s Chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr, (GCON), represented by the company’s Coordinator, Business Enterprise Group, Mr. Folu Aderibigbe declared that the Glo-CAF Awards has grown exponentially to become the biggest and most prestigious sports award ceremony in Africa.
He noted that the silver jubilee edition was “dedicated to honouring our footballers who through the years have been representing the continent and flying the African flag across the world.
Through thick and thin, they have made the continent proud and left indelible marks on the sands of time. Unlike the previous editions when only the stars of the past one year were celebrated, tonight, the glory will be shared by all the icons of African football in
the past twenty-five years.”
Dr. Adenuga also commended African players for their diligence. He said:“From street soccer to school games, local leagues to continental leagues and world tournaments, African footballers, whether playing on bald pitches with their bare feet or trading tackles in the best turf in any football arena, have always discharged themselves creditably.”
CAF President, Dr.Issa Hayatou commended Globacom for its support towards the development of African football over the years. He stated that the partnership between Globacom and CAF which began in 2005 has elevated the annual awards gala to a world-classevent.The 2016 CAF Awards was replete with frills and thrills.
The event was headlined by African music legend, Femi Kuti and featured first-class music and entertainment stars from several African countries including
Diamond Platinumz of Tanzania, Muffinz from South Africa and Nigeria’s sensation, Flavour who set the International Conference Centre venue of the gala agog with the appearance on stage of an Igbo masquerade which danced to his cultural track, “Gbo gan gbom”. Other performers on the night included Omawumi, Yemi Alade and Reekardo Banks from Nigeria as well as Benin Republic diva,Sessima.