The Algeria international says the record Grand Slam champion drives him in his mission to rack up the trophies
Riyad Mahrez has spoken out on how tennis star Rafael Nadal continues to inspire him as his role model to stay hungry, with the Manchester City man stating that it keeps him striving to surpass his old achievements.
The Algeria international has enjoyed a trophy-laden domestic career ever since he helped steer Leicester City to a shock Premier League triumph in 2016, winning further titles across multiple competitions since heading to the Etihad Stadium under Pep Guardiola.
Given that the winger has conquered virtually every domestic honour placed before him, he acknowledges that he draws upon his inspiration Nadal – the joint all-time leader in men’s Grand Slam triumphs in tennis – to help keep him focused on always bettering himself.
What has Riyad Mahrez said?
“It’s like Rafael Nadal,” the 30-year-old told YouTube channel Oui Hustle in regards to driving himself on. “Once, he’d won 11 times at [home of the French Open] Roland Garros – and he was losing in the final of another tournament [in 2019].
“He said he heard a voice in his head saying “it’s okay Rafa, you’ve already won 11”. But no, he continues, even injured. He pushes and he wins.
“Those are the real champions. When you win, you have to win again or we’ll say we’re over. You have to surpass yourself all the time.”
Mahrez on Mbappe’s Euro heartbreak
Mahrez was also drawn on Kylian Mbappe and the disappointment of Euro 2020 for the France international, stating that he believes the attacker will bring the right mindset to putting his heartbreak behind him.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker saw his decisive penalty saved during Les Bleus’ shootout defeat to Switzerland in the last-16, to condemn Didier Deschamp’s reigning World Cup holders to a shock early exit.
“Football is a constant challenge,” Mahrez adds. “We saw it with Mbappe. He won the World Cup three years ago. Then he missed a penalty. Everyone has fallen on him.
“Everything you did yesterday, they don’t care, it is in the past. You have to look ahead. When you win, next year you have to come back and try to win again. This is the right mindset. and those who have are very successful.”
The bigger picture
Mahrez will look to add more to his medal drawer this coming season as Guardiola looks to drive his title-winning squad onto even greater highs both domestically and internationally.
Having fallen short in the Champions League at the last hurdle in May – edged out by Chelsea in Portugal – the Premier Legaue champions will look to go one better this time around.
Before then however, they will have to face Mahrez’s old club Leicester at Wembley Stadium in the FA Community Shield, before a second trip to London to face Tottenham in their Premier League season opener.