Remarkably Riyad Mahrez' coaches "couldn't get him to take a throw-in correctly" at one time

Algerian journalist Maher Mezahi tells the rags to riches story of the Leicester City star to Off The Ball

BY Raf Diallo 21:46 Wednesday 10 February 2016, 21:46 10 Feb 2016

Leicesters Riyad Mahrez during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Stoke City at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Even if another club ends up winning this season's Premier League, Leicester City will remain the defining story of the campaign.

Jamie Vardy has been one of the totems their unexpected rise has been built on. Midfielder N'Golo Kante, the wise management of Claudio Ranieri and an ever-improving defence also deserve credit.

But Riyad Mahrez is the player really providing the X-Factor in midfielder, with 14 goals and 10 assists to his name.

Like Vardy, it has been a meteoric rise for a player who joined Leicester in 2014 from French side Le Havre for just £350,000.

Yet the French-born Algerian's story is not well known and to fill Off The Ball in, Algerian journalist Maher Mezahi, told the story of a 24-year-old who started off in an "impoverished" Paris suburb of Sarcelles similar to the type of area Zinedine Zidane and Samir Nasri grew up in. 

As Mezahi explained, academies failed to spot him in his early years as he began at hometown Sarcelles in the sixth tier of French football until a call took him to Quimper, where he began to learn the ropes tactically and shared an apartment with one of Paul Pogba's older brothers.

Algeria's Riyad Mahrez, left, and Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne battle for the ball during the group H World Cup soccer match between Belgium and Algeria at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

But there was one area that the former street footballer lacked ability at as told by a former coach.

"He said Mahrez was by far head and shoulders above any other player on the pitch but they couldn't get him to take a throw-in correctly in one match. He had two or three foul throws and it was all because he kept toeing the line. I guess he didn't know he had to be behind it," said Mezahi.

After a season at Quimper, he moved onto Le Havre FC - spurning a move to PSG's reserves - a club with a fine reputation for developing footballers, where he also crossed paths with current Leicester team-mate Kante when the latter was at US Boulogne according to Mezahi. 

And not long after, Leicester City stepped in to bring him to England.


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