BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Leicester City superstar Riyad Mahrez has revealed he could have signed for St Mirren – but did a runner because of the weather.
The Algerian international has been a revelation during the Foxes’ fairytale march towards a maiden Premier League title, bagging 17 goals and 11 assists on his way to being named PFA player of the year.
However, in an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe, Mahrez revealed his career could have taken a very different path, having trained with the Buddies as a raw teenager.
Mahrez, a youth player with AAC Sarcelle at the time, endured the whipping wind and snow during a gruelling winter period before fleeing from his hotel on a borrowed bike to catch a flight back to France, ultimately signing for amateur outfit Quimper.
He said: “An agent paid for my ticket to Scotland and I travelled over with my Sarcelle teammate Dany Bekele and it went well at first. I played four friendly matches and scored seven goals.
“But they made me wait – for two and a half months! Scotland drove me crazy. It was cold and it was physical. It was so cold one day that I feigned an injury to go back into the dressing room.
“I felt I had progressed enough but I wasn’t able to leave . . . so I left in secret. I even left my boots at the training ground. I borrowed a bike from a guy at the hotel and packed my bags without telling anyone.
“I didn’t even tell the lady at the hotel, I took a secret staircase which avoided the reception and went to the airport to go home!”
And the rest is history. After impressing at Quimper, Mahrez landed a move to Le Havre where he caught the eye of Leicester, who got one of the game’s great bargains by snapping him up in a £450,000 deal in the summer of 2014.