Real Madrid captain Karim Benzema has been crowned the winner of the 2022 Ballon D’or award.
Benzema was the global favourite for football’s most prestigious individual award, finishing ahead of Sadio Mané and Kevin De Bruyne to pick up the award for the first time in his career. He became only the second player outside of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to pick up the trophy since 2008, along with Real Madrid teammate Luka Modric.
The Frenchman, who’s the first from his nation to win the Ballon D’or since Zinedine Zidane in 1998, netted 44 goals in 46 appearances across all competitions. Benzema was pivotal in Los Blancos’ 14th UEFA Champions League triumph in May, scoring back-to-back hat-tricks in the knockout stages against PSG and Chelsea, respectively.
Benzema ended the European campaign with 15 goals (10 coming in the knockout rounds) and 2 assists in 12 UCL games, coming agonizingly close to Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 17 in a single campaign.
The 34-year-old also won La Liga’s Pichichi, the award given to the league’s top scorer as Benzema’s 27 goals fired Real Madrid to a 35th Spanish top-flight crown.
“This prize in front of me makes me really proud. When I was small it was a childhood dream, I never gave up, — anything is possible,” said Benzema after receiving his award at the ceremony.
“There was a difficult period when I wasn’t in the French team but I never gave up. I’m really proud of my journey here. It wasn’t easy, it was a difficult time for my family as well.”
Benzema was presented with the award by Ballon D’or winner and his former manager Zinedine Zidane, becoming the fifth Frenchman to win the honour.
Benzema’s El Clasico rival Gavi also picked up the Kopa Trophy, given to the best youngster in Europe over the past season, whilst FC Barcelona Feminin star Alexia Putellas picked up the Woman’s Ballon D’or. Furthermore, Man City were also named Club of the year at the ceremony in Paris.