After scoring the winning goal for Manchester City against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium, he stuck his hands into the air and pointed. And stared.
Mahrez, a former Leicester City player, said after the game that in that moment he was thinking about the Foxes owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who passed away on Saturday in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium.
“The [Leicester City] boss was very special to me,” Mahrez told Sky Sports after the match. “I spent four and a half years there. I have many memories of him. He was such a good person; a good human. When I scored, I put my hands up to the sky for him. He did a lot for me and for Leicester.”
Mahrez spent four years at Leicester City, helping the Foxes win the Premier League title and earning PFA Player of the Year in the process. He moved to Manchester City this past summer after years of speculation, but clearly still has strong ties to his former club, and the news over the weekend had a profound effect on the 27-year-old.
“I am very, very sad,” Mahrez said. “That is why when I scored I put my hands in the sky for him. He did a lot for me and Leciester and it is difficult to speak about. It it is very sad. He was like a dad. He was very special. He was such a good person, a big heart and it was heart-breaking and shocking for me to hear this news and for all of the other people who died with him. It is a difficult situation I am with Leicester and the family of the victims.”
Mahrez said that there was never a question of if he should sit Monday’s match out in the aftermath of Srivaddhanaprabha’s sudden death.
“I always wanted to play [against Tottenham],” Mahrez said. “I know he would have wanted me to play. He was passionate about football. It was difficult but I kept thinking about him. It was difficult to sleep as well.”
On Sunday, when news broke of Srivaddhanaprabha’s death, Mahrez posted on Instagram a picture of himself with the boss, calling him “one of the best people I’ve ever met” and said “I will never forget you.”