Riyad Mahrez: playing in a Champions League final is something you dream of as a kid
Manchester City hope to add European Cup to Premier League and League Cup trophies
Riyad Mahrez says playing in a Champions League final is a "dream for any player" as the Manchester City winger sets his sights on helping the club to a historic treble.
Pep Guardiola's Premier League and League Cup winners aim to add a first European Cup to a trophy room that has undergone significant extensions since the Abu Dhabi United Group purchased the club in 2008. They face a Chelsea side playing in a third final in what is also a third all-English final in Europe's premier club competition.
“It’s a huge moment for everyone in the team, something you dream of as a kid," said Mahrez. "We’ve obviously wanted to get to this stage for a long time and now we’re here, we want to make sure we lift the trophy."
City would become only the second English team to complete a treble of league, domestic cup and Champions League after Manchester United in 1999.
In 10 seasons playing in the Champions League, City's previous best performance was reaching the semi-finals in 2015/16, when they bowed out to a Fernando own goal against Real Madrid.
"It’s a dream for any player to play at this level and we’re looking to go out there and do what we can to win,” Mahrez said.
The Algerian, 30, has been in the winning habit since playing a pivotal role in Leicester City's improbable Premier League title win in 2016. He joined City in 2018, since when he has added another two league titles, an FA Cup and three League Cups. He also played a starring role in his country's 2019 Africa Cup of Nations triumph.
Mahrez did as much as any player in getting City to Saturday's showdown in Portugal. A goal against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals was bested by a one-man show in the semis, with Mahrez's three strikes across two legs sealing City's safe passage past Paris Saint-Germain.
"There were moments against Dortmund and PSG when people would have looked at us and said maybe they won’t make it," Mahrez said. "But we came together as a group and now we play maybe the biggest games of our club careers."
Around 6,000 City fans are expected to attend Porto's Estadio do Dragao following Uefa's decision to move the match from Istanbul to allow English supporters to travel under Covid-19 restrictions.
And while those fans hope to see City lift the trophy in the flesh, Mahrez had a message for supporters unable to travel.
“I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who supports the club,” Mahrez said. “It’s been a strange season where we’ve not been able to see the fans and have them with us at games but we know that everyone is watching and cheering us on from home.
“In the difficult moments out on the pitch, that idea can really push you on to achieve so everyone is so important to this success. We have already won the League Cup and the Premier League for our fans and the final will be special, so everyone should enjoy it and hopefully we can win the trophy for everyone out there who loves City.”
Updated: May 28, 2021 02:18 AM