Riyad Mahrez says Manchester City’s clean sweep of domestic trophies and Algeria’s Africa Cup of Nations triumph is motivating him to reach even greater heights.
The forward was part of Pep Guardiola’s side that won the Premier League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Community Shield. He also captained Algeria to a first Afcon triumph victory for 29 years in July after they beat Senegal 1-0 in the final, with Mahrez having scored a late semi-final winner from a free-kick against Nigeria.
Guardiola has praised the 28-year-old’s early-season form and Mahrez, who was one of five City players to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or last week, pointed to his inspiration. “To win all four here in the country has never happened so we know we created history,” he said. “As well as this, a big moment for me was winning the Afcon for my country. It was one of the best emotions I have had in my career and life.
“It means a lot to me. It is a big responsibility, but I think it makes me more active [inspired] and I think I must help and give more to help. It was a big moment and emotional. It was unforgettable. I did this for Algeria and for my family. I always watched Algeria and they never won this type of thing. The last time they won was 29 years ago and I wasn’t even born. For me it was a big ambition to try and bring something for the country because it is a big country of football. The desire was to give everything and to give them something.”
Of his semi-final strike against Nigeria, Mahrez added: “I watched the clock and saw it was 90 minutes [gone]. I knew it was the last chance before extra time, so I was very focused. At first, I wanted to put it under the wall and then I saw the guy behind the wall, so I focused myself on the keeper’s side and I scored. It was a big moment for me, and I was very happy and for the country it was unbelievable. Sometimes I watch the video and think: ‘Wow, what have I done?’ It is unbelievable. It something that will stay forever. I always knew how [good] I can become – it helped me with my confidence.”