Last Sunday, Riyad Mahrez capped off a wonderful season for Leicester City by collecting the PFA Player of the Year award.
That’s some rise for a player who once borrowed a bike to escape a trial at Scottish club St Mirren.
Yes, you read that correctly.
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In an interview with French magazine L’Equipe, the Algerian winger admitted he was offered a trial at the Scottish Championship side but hated the cold weather so much that he feigned an injury to avoid training.
Eventually, Mahrez decided to pack up his bags and head home without telling St Mirren. Reading his words, you wonder why he ever returned to British shores in 2014.
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“It was physical and it was cold,” Mahrez recalled, per The Guardian. “We trained in the snow! I felt that I progressed, I wasn’t allowed to go so I left in secret.”
“I borrowed a bike so I could get my things I had left at the training ground, before catching a train to the airport and going home.”
No doubt Leicester are praying Britain isn’t hit with a severe blast of cold weather anytime soon.
The fact that Mahrez was even at St Mirren shows just how far he has come in a short space of time.
He has scored 18 goals and created 11 more in an unforgettable season for Mahrez, whose stunning performances were recognised when he claimed the Premier League’s top individual accolade.
Leicester’s story might go down as the best in Premier League history if they are able to record the one win they need to clinch the title.
They have managed to remain composed despite the increased attention. Many expected Claudio Ranieri’s side to buckle, but they haven’t relinquished first place ever since reaching the summit on January 16.
Leicester's players are in a bubble
Mahrez attributed Leicester’s ability to handle the pressure to the bubble he and his teammates are currently living in.
“Not too much, no. Although we feel something is happening in England, but we live a little in our bubble,” Mahrez replied when asked if he is aware just how big Leicester’s rise has become across Europe.
“We do not have the best players, nor the biggest budget, but our solidarity compels admiration. We had a bit of luck too. It was this year or never. Until January, we did not think of the title. It has become possible, but we will not let it go to our heads.”
Leicester have used their tag as the underdogs to full effect. The players, none of whom were stars before the season, will do anything for one another and this allows them to play in a relaxed state.
“We were not programmed to become pros,” Mahrez continued. “We live with some form of carelessness. With N’Golo, we laugh. It’s impossible in our history, even if nothing is done. Wes Morgan, our captain, was also discovered belatedly.”
It goes without saying that Mahrez doesn’t miss Scotland.