Leicester's Riyad Mahrez named PFA Player of the Year
Published 24/04/2016 | 23:16
Riyad Mahrez won the PFA Player of the Year award and then dedicated the prize to all his Leicester team-mates.
Mahrez was presented with the prestigious trophy at the Grosvenor Hotel in London on Sunday after contributing 17 goals and 11 assists to the Foxes' fairytale campaign.
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli won the PFA Young Player of the Year 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 Algerian held off competition from Dimitri Payet, Harry Kane, Mesut Ozil and fellow Leicester men Jamie Vardy and N'Golo Kante to win the award, but dedicated the success to his team-mates.
"All the credit is for them, seriously," Mahrez said.
"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 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 Barclays Premier League.
The 20-year-old beat team-mate Harry 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 Brom on Monday, but Ossie Ardiles picked it up on his behalf and the youngster sent a video message.
"Thank you Ossie, the Tottenham legend for receiving this award for me," Alli said.
"Sorry I can't be there tonight, but we have a big game tomorrow. Thank you for to everyone who voted for me.
"I feel honoured to win such a prestigious award and thank you to my friends, family and all the staff at Tottenham."
Perhaps Alli's finest moment this season came against Crystal Palace in January, when he cushioned the ball on his knee, flicked it over his head and volleyed home from outside the penalty area.
England manager Roy Hodgson handed the midfielder his international debut against Estonia in October and a month later he scored his first goal for his country, finding the top corner against France at Wembley.
Meanwhile, Manchester City midfielder Izzy Christiansen won the PFA Women's Player of the Year award, Sunderland forward Beth Mead took the Women's Young Player of the Year award and Ryan Giggs was handed the PFA Merit award.