LONDON — Riyad Mahrez dedicated his goal in Manchester City’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur to late Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Mahrez spent five seasons with the Foxes before his move to City in the summer and described the Leicester chairman as being “like a dad” to him.
Srivaddhanaprabha was killed on Saturday when his helicopter crashed outside the King Power Stadium and the Algerian winger looked to the heavens after his decisive sixth-minute goal.
“It has been very, very difficult for me,” Mahrez told Sky Sports after the game. “It is not easy to have this type of stuff.
“The boss was very special to me. I spent four-and-a-half years there and I have many memories with him. He was such a good person, such a good human.
“I am very, very sad. That is why when I scored I put my hands in the sky for him because he did a lot for me and Leicester and it is difficult to speak about because it is very sad.”
Mahrez won the Premier League title during his time at Leicester as well as winning the Player of the Year award in the same season.
He admitted that it was difficult to feature in Monday night’s game against Tottenham but said that Srivaddhanaprabha would have wanted him to play.
“He was like a dad. He was very special,” Mahrez added. “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.
“I always wanted to play. I know he would have wanted me to play. He was passionate about football. It was difficult [to play against Tottenham] but I kept thinking about him. It was difficult to sleep as well.”
Pep Guardiola admitted he had concerns about starting with Mahrez when the winger decided that he wanted to play.
“We spoke with him, how he felt,” the City boss told a news conference. “It’s a big loss for all the families in Leicester especially and Riyad was part of that for many years.
“It was tough, but I didn’t speak with him in terms of how do you feel to play today because I know how competitive he is and how he likes to play on the big events. Sometimes playing games helps, not to forget, but to live it in a better way.”