PanaTimes

Friday, Feb 03, 2023

Real Madrid And France Star Karim Benzema Wins Ballon d'Or

Real Madrid And France Star Karim Benzema Wins Ballon d'Or

Ballon d'Or: Karim Benzema, who is the first French winner of the most prestigious individual prize in football since Zinedine Zidane in 1998, scored 44 goals in 46 games for his club including 15 in the Champions League.

For Karim Benzema, winning the most prestigious individual award in football is the ultimate recognition for his remarkable performances with Real Madrid last season and confirmation that he is a player and a man transformed since his years in exile from the French national team because of a sextape scandal.

Benzema, fresh from scoring for Real against Barcelona in Sunday's Clasico, was the overwhelming favourite to win the Ballon d'Or in Monday's ceremony in Paris.

He is the fifth Frenchman to claim the prize, the first since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.

His victory was seen as such a foregone conclusion in France that the front page headline of newspaper Le Parisien on Monday was dedicated to him. "The revenge of the unpopular one," it said.

It is not long ago that Benzema, now 34, was a pariah, frozen out of the France team for five and a half years because of his involvement in a blackmail scandal over a sextape involving his former teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

The Lyon native went on trial late last year and was handed a one-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 75,000 euros ($73,848).

In June he decided not to appeal his conviction, eager to turn the page and keep the focus on football.

By then he had completed a stunning season with his club, propelling Real to glory in the Champions League as well as the Spanish title.

Astonishing season


With the criteria for the prize having been changed to only take into account the last full season, rather than the calendar year, his performances meant there was little prospect of anyone else winning the Ballon d'Or.

The figures speak for themselves.

Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 games for Real last season, including 27 in La Liga as he ended the campaign as the top scorer in Spain's top flight by a distance.

But his very best form came in the Champions League, in which he was also the leading marksman with 15 goals in 12 appearances.

Wearing the captain's armband, Benzema scored five times in the group stage for Carlo Ancelotti's side, but the best was to come in the knockout rounds.

He scored a stunning hat-trick in 17 second-half minutes in the spectacular last-16 comeback win over Paris Saint-Germain, and another away to Chelsea in the quarter-final first leg.

It was also his extra-time goal in the return leg of that tie that nipped a Chelsea comeback in the bud, and he scored three more over both legs of the semi-final against Manchester City, including an extra-time spot-kick in the return leg which secured Real's spot in the final.

He was not the standout player in the final, with Vinicius Junior scoring the only goal of the game, but that victory over Liverpool in Paris would not have been possible without Benzema's prior contribution.

The former Lyon striker has now won five Champions Leagues since moving to the Spanish capital aged 21 in 2009.

"What is most important to me is to win collective trophies. If you do things well on the field, individual awards will follow," Benzema pointed out recently.

This award comes after he was named the UEFA player of last season at a ceremony in August, for he did not just enjoy success at club level.

Benzema also won his first international title with France in the Nations League, scoring in the final as Les Bleus beat Spain 2-1.

Off-field affairs


Absent from his country's victorious 2018 World Cup campaign, he is now hoping to cap off an incredible year by helping France retain that title in Qatar -– his 35th birthday is the day after the December 18 final.

Benzema, whose grandfather emigrated to France from Algeria, was brought up in the Lyon suburb of Bron.

He quickly emerged as an exciting talent at Lyon, then France's dominant club, before earning a move to Real where he spent years in the shadows of Cristiano Ronaldo and was frequently caught up in off-field affairs.

Before the sextape scandal, he and fellow French international star Franck Ribery were swept up in a tawdry tale with a prostitute named Zahia Dehar.

However, the case against them for allegedly having sex with her when she was underage -- Benzema denied ever doing so -- collapsed in 2014.

Yet in recent years a far more mature Benzema has let his football do the talking.

That is why, in 2020, Zidane was in no doubt when asked if he thought Benzema was his country's greatest ever centre-forward.

"For me he is clearly the best, yes," he said.

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanaTimes
Close
0:00
0:00
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he will block Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman.
Yellen hints at ‘national security’ probe into Twitter purchase
×