Karim Benzema wins Ballon d’Or for first time after Sensational Real Madrid year
Karim Benzema has claimed the Ballon d’Or for the first time in his career after a sensational season that saw him clinch LaLiga and Champions League glory with Real Madrid
The Frenchman was the standout performer for Los Blancos as they won LaLiga and claimed another Champions League crown. Benzema scored 44 times – the highest single-season tally of his career – as he continues to blossom at the age of 34, becoming just the fifth man from his country to win the prestigious accolade.
He is the first Frenchman to claim the award since Zinedine Zidane’s success back in 1998. The former Lyon man, who signed for Madrid in 2009 had for much of his career, played second fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo, but has flourished as his side’s main man in recent years following the departure of the Portuguese talisman.
Upon claiming the award Benzema said: “This prize in front of me, makes me really proud. When I was young, I never gave up, it was a childhood dream. I had the motivation, I had two role models in my life in Zidane and Ronaldo. I had always had this dream that everything is possible. There was a period where I wasn’t in the French team but I never stopped working, I’m really proud of my journey here and it was not easy.
“It was also a difficult time for my family, to be here, my first time, I’m happy and I’m going to keep going. I want to thank all my teammates at Real Madrid and the national team, my coach, the Real Madrid president. I always had the support from Jean-Michel Aulas (Lyon president). The Ballon d’Or is an individual prize but it is still a collective one for everyone who’s helped me win it.”
Domestically he scored 27 times as Madrid won the Spanish title at a canter, but it was in Europe that he produced his best performances as he dragged Madrid into the final where they beat Liverpool 1-0 at Stade de France.
Los Blancos comfortably negotiated their group and had to overcome PSG, Chelsea , and Manchester City to reach the final in Paris. Madrid made a habit of coming back from the brink throughout the knockout stages and it was often Benzema who hauled them over the line. Against PSG, Benzema scored a 17-minute hat-trick to see off the French side 3-2 on aggregate.
In the last eight, Benzema backed up his PSG hat-trick with another treble at Stamford Bridge – becoming just the fourth man to score three times in successive games – as he set Madrid on their way to a 5-4 triumph which they secured in extra-time, with the Frenchman scoring the decisive goal. He did likewise against hot favorites City, notching the semi-final winner from the spot having also netted at the Etihad.
Other notable Winners
Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane, who was at Liverpool in 2021-22, was second ahead of Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne.
Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas retained the Women’s Ballon d’Or, awarded to the best best female footballer of 2022.
England Euro 2022 winner and Arsenal forward Beth Mead was second.
Premier League champions Manchester City, who had six nominees at the ceremony, were awarded Club of the Year ahead of Liverpool.
Warm reception for Haller
Borussia Dortmund’s former West Ham striker Sebastien Haller, who has recently undergone chemotherapy for a testicular tumour, received warm applause from the audience when he walked on stage to present the Yashin Trophy to Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois for best goalkeeper.
Liverpool’s Alisson was second, with Ederson of Manchester City and Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy third and fourth respectively. Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris was 10th.
The Kopa Trophy, awarded to the best performing player under the age of 21, went to Barcelona and Spain midfielder Gavi, who turned 18 in August.
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham, 19, was ranked fourth and England team-mate and Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka, 21, was eighth.
Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski won the Gerd Muller Trophy awarded to the best striker after scoring 57 goals for Bayern Munich and Poland in 2021-22.
The inaugural Socrates Award, a humanitarian prize, went to Mane for his charity work.
Credit: The Mirror and BBC