Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has picked up the 2022 Ballon d’Or award off the back of an impressive year for club and country.
The striker scored 44 times in 46 games across all competitions for Carlo Ancelotti’s men en route to La Liga and Champions League glory, while also starring for France in their Nations League triumph last October.
Fending off competition from Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne who came second and third respectively, Benzema becomes the eighth Madrid player and the fifth Frenchman to etch his name into the Ballon d’Or history books.
“It makes me really proud – all the work I did, I never gave up,” Benzema was quoted saying by Sky Sports after picking up football’s most-coveted individual accolade.
“It was a childhood dream like all kids. I had two motivations in my life – (Zinedine) Zidane and (Cristiano) Ronaldo. I’ve always had this dream in my mind that anything is possible.
“I have a lot of people to thank. It’s an individual prize, but it’s a collective one because everyone has played a role.
“I want to thank my teammates, whether it’s Real Madrid or the national team. My coach, thanks to him as well and the Real Madrid president as well.”
Looking to replicate his heroics from last season, Benzema has started the current campaign a tad slower although he did end a five-game goal drought by scoring the opener in Sunday’s El Clasico which ended 3-1 in Los Blancos’ favour.
With his Madrid contract due to expire next summer, Benzema is set to put pen to paper on a new deal to extend his time at the Santiago Bernabeu by a further 12 months.
Elsewhere, Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or for the second successive year, seeing off the threat of Beth Mead and Samantha Kerr.
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