Real Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema won the Ballon d’Or best footballer of the year for the first time on Monday night in Paris.
Benzema becomes the 2nd French man to win this prestigious award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998. Zidane presented the award to him.
“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.” Benzema said adding that“I’m really proud of my journey here. It wasn’t easy, it was a difficult time for my family as well.”
Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 games as he helped Real win the Champions League and La Liga in 2021-22. He also scored three more goals over two legs of the semi-final against Manchester City.
He is further expected to play a key role for France at the World Cup in Qatar which starts on 20 November, 2022.
Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane, a former Liverpool player (2021-22) was second and Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne came in the third place.
Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas retained the Women’s Ballon d’Or, as the best best female footballer of 2022.
Premier League champions Manchester City were awarded Club of the Year and Liverpool came in second place.
In recent years, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the award save for 2018 when Croatia midfielder Luka Modric won it
The two football greats Messi (seven) and Cristiano Ronaldo (five) had won the award on 12 of the previous 13 Ballon d’Or occasions.
Messi has won the trophy more times than any other player and his seventh success in 2021 came after wins in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019.
However, this time round Messi was not nominated following an underwhelming first season at Paris St-Germain.
Manchester United’s Ronaldo, who last won it in 2017, was placed 20th of the 30 players nominated, his lowest Ballon d’Or ranking since 2005.
The Ballon d’Or is awarded to the best footballer of the year, based on performance over the 2021-22 season as voted for by 100 journalists from around the world.