Srinagar: French and Real Madrid football star Karim Benzema on Monday was crowned as winner of the prestigious Ballon d’Or 2022 award for his incredible 2021-22 season. Benzema was pivotal in leading Madrid to Champions Trophy and La Liga titles last season.
Benzema is first Frenchman to claim the award since Zinedine Zidane did in 1998.
He scored 44 goals in 46 matches, including 15 in the Champions League. Some of the 34-year-old’s major exploits included a 17-minute second-half hat-trick against PSG in the round of 16 of Champions League, and then another away vs Chelsea in the quarter-final first leg. He also found the back of the net thrice over both legs of the semi-final fixture against Manchester City.
After receiving the award, Benzema said, “This makes me really proud, all the work I did, I never gave up”.
“I had two role models in my life, Zidane and Ronaldo as well. I always had this dream in my mind that everything’s possible. There was a difficult period where I wasn’t in the French team but I worked hard and never gave up, kept my head down and enjoyed playing football.”
He was named UEFA Player of the Year in August this year.
Cristiano Ronaldo finished a poor 20th, along with Tottenham’s Harry Kane (21st). Last year’s Ballon d’Or Lionel Messi wasn’t even nominated this time after a disappointing debut season with PSG.
Other than Benzema, three other Real Madrid players made it to the Ballon d’Or list; Vinicius Jr, Luka Modric, Thibaut Courtois and Casemiro (17th, now at Manchester United).
Meanwhile, Riyad Mahrez came in 12th place and Luis Diaz ranked 17th in the standings. Also, young Phil Foden finished in 22nd position, with Manchester City teammate Bernardo Silva in 22nd.
Barcelona’s Gavi won the Kopa Trophy and Alexia Putellas successfully defended her Women’s Ballon d’Or award.
Men’s Ballon d’Or Standings-
- Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
- Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
- Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
- Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona/Bayern Munich)
- Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
- Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
- Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
- Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)
- Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
- Erling Haaland (Manchester City/Borussia Dortmund)
- Son Heung-min (Tottenham)
- Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
- Sébastien Haller (Ajax Amsterdam / Borussia Dortmund)
- Rafael Leao (AC Milan)
- Fabinho (Liverpool)
- Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
- Casemiro (Real Madrid/Manchester United)
- Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina/Juventus Turin)
- Luis Diaz (Porto/Liverpool)
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Manchester United)