The ex-wife of Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez has revealed how the Algerian skipper turned his back on her and their family after signing for the Premier League champions.
Today singer Rita Johal says Mahrez, who earns £160,000 a week, transformed from a down-to-earth dad who shopped in Asda into a “big head” after his move from Leicester City.
And Johal thinks Tottenham striker Harry Kane’s wife Kate should breathe a sigh of relief now that his £160million transfer to Man City has collapsed.
The 28-year-old mother of two exclusively told The Sun on Sunday: “I can’t comment on other people’s lives but moving there changed my husband.
“Harry Kane’s wife probably had a lucky escape. Others should be careful.
“Riyad let fame go to his head. He changed when he went to Manchester City.
“But a footballer’s career is short-lived.
“They should remain grounded and loyal to those they care for, even when they have moved up to a bigger club, because when it’s all over they will realise who’s truly there.”
Rita told how she changed her faith for Muslim Riyad, stopped drinking alcohol and accepted a quiet life with the star when she first met him seven years ago.
But when he moved north for £60million in 2018, she says Riyad, 30, turned cold towards her.
Now he has moved on and is engaged to influencer Taylor Ward.
She said: “The Riyad I met is a different person to the one he is now. He parties, he acts like a flash footballer.
“I don’t hate him, that’s a strong word, but I am shocked and saddened by what he has done.
“He suddenly left me, blaming the pressures of playing at Manchester City.
“Now he spends all his time jetting around the place on holiday without a care in the world.”
Johal explained how she met and fell in love with Mahrez.
“It was 2014 and I didn’t have a clue who he was. He wasn’t a big name then.
“But he was charming and I liked him. He was lovely to me, constantly telling me I was beautiful, asking about my life, making me feel special.
“He said he loved me and wanted me to have his children.”
The pair became inseparable and just four months later they married in a secret ceremony.
Johal said: “We had a small wedding at home.
“I loved him, I wanted to do that. I changed the way I was for him. I changed my faith.
“I stopped drinking, as he didn’t drink. I loved his values. And I wanted a solid family life.
“I wanted us to be strong together like my own parents and he felt the same way.
“Our wedding was low key at home with two priests and our close family.
“We were madly in love and we wanted to be together for ever.
“At first we were just a normal family.
“Riyad wasn’t flash. Yes, he was a footballer, but we were just your regular couple with our two little girls.
“He went and played football, I was a stay-at-home mum. We would watch films together.”
But in July 2018, Manchester City confirmed his signing on a five-year contract. The transfer fee of £60million made him the club’s then most expensive player.
Johal says that is when their lives changed completely. Rita, now living in Beaconsfield, Bucks, said: “The loving, humble and caring Riyad disappeared.
He started to believe his own hype. He had yes men who told him what he wanted to hear. I started to see the change in him.
“He stopped asking me how my day went and what I was going to do.
“I think I became the boring wife at home and he had this glitzy lifestyle away from me.
“He started to just ignore me.
“Obviously I asked what was going on and he would say, ‘I am pressured, it is the football, I am stressed’.”