Former Algerian manager, Vahid Halilhodzic has joked that he deserves a national statue in the North African country for believing in Leicester City.
Halilhodzic speaks very highly of Mahrez’s behaviour off the pitch, claiming the winger always brings with him a great atmosphere – a quality that has seen him endear himself into the hearts of alot of fans in England and across the world.
Speaking with goal.com, he said: “He’s a typical Algerian lad: fearless, loves attention, and always contributes to a good atmosphere within the team. He’s always joking but he handles himself well in every situation.
“I remember telling him once: ‘Hey, you just joined the team and already you’re making fun of everyone! Keep it down a little!’. He just laughed and went back to his normal ways.
“He is very likeable, but sometimes to need to rein him in a bit.
“Algerians are very grateful to me for not letting Mahrez slip and maybe end up playing for France – some joke I should get a statue for keeping Riyad Algerian!”
The Japanese manager came under extreme scrutiny during his time as Algeria’s head coach in 2014 as fans of the Desert Foxes who alleged that the Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez paid to be included in the World Cup squad for Brazil 2014.
“I first heard Riyad’s name when ex-coach Christophe Delmotte told me there was an interesting Algerian lad at Le Havre,” Halilhodzic said.
“He didn’t play much there but he caught my attention. You could see he was one hell of a technician – he controls the ball brilliantly.
“He moved to Leicester soon after and started playing off the bench. I saw quality. He was technically superior and a sophisticated dribbler, but he had no power. Still, I saw his potential and invited him to the World Cup.”
“I cannot describe what I experience from the Algerian media after that. There was no common sense in their criticism – some even claimed I took money from Riyad to take him to the World Cup!
“Of course, he was not at the level he is today, but it doesn’t surprise me how good he is in the Premier League. He’s the kind of player that makes a difference. A modern, fantastic player. I knew I didn’t make a mistake in calling him up.”
Mahrez has scored 14 premier league goals for Leicester City this season as the Foxes lead the log with five points heading into the game against Arsenal on Sunday.