The Ballon d’Or trophy has been kept in Karim Benzema’s trophy cabinet since he moved into his beautiful mansion in Ciudalcampo, an exclusive community on the outskirts of Madrid. He has long wished to display all the Champions Leagues, prizes, medals, and other awards he has won.
17 October Monday night, he achieved his life’s Dream and his crowning achievement. Benzema never stopped working, believing or dreaming of winning that illustrious prize, even when things weren’t going well at Real Madrid when Didier Deschamps didn’t pick him for the French team. Even as he grew older, he has officially crowned the best player in the world.
During Monday night’s ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, he said: This is the Ballon d’Or of the people. He noted that it was an example for anyone with dreams and ambitions. His profession has been dominated by people who once started from nothing and rose to the top. It’s not uncommon for people to be written off only to rise again, like him. A person with talent who never gives up puts in the hard work and uses their gifts to the fullest extent. There is no doubt that Benzema is a role model and voice in this regard.
Carlo Ancelotti said on Monday night that Karim is playing football. I think Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is right, too, because France forward Neymar is both elegant and classy, generous and intelligent, talented and inspirational. A player capable of miracles, he is the complete striker of his generation, one who led the Merengues to another European triumph in the Champions League last season with 15 goals – his fifth CL title since joining the club from Lyon in 2009-10.
When presented Benzema with the trophy by Zinedine Zidane, who is like an older brother to him, he added something even more vital than Ancelotti: “If you don’t understand football, then you don’t appreciate Benzema’s greatness.” Karim the Dream received the Ballon d’Or as a reward for a long career in which he has displayed flair, awareness, creativity and intelligence.
It is rare for players like him to see things differently throughout history. Since Stanley Matthews won the Ballon d’Or in 1956, he is the oldest winner since that legend. Since Zidane won it in 1998, he is the first Frenchman to win it. After the most incredible season of his career, there were no doubts this year.
At 34 years old, Karim Benzema is the oldest winner since Stanley Matthews in 1956 and only the fifth Frenchman to win the Ballon d’Or. Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo had won 12 of the previous 13 Ballon d’Or – with Real Madrid’s Luka Modric winning as the sole outlier in 2018 – yet Messi wasn’t even shortlisted. It was Ronaldo’s 20th-place finish this year. The Ballond’Orr Feminin went to Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas for the second straight year.
Malika joined him on stage after his win was announced because he wanted to share the moment with her. In their council estate in Bron, near Lyon, he had been obsessed with football since she was a little boy. It was attended by Ibrahim, his 5-year-old son (he also has a daughter, Melia, who is 8 years old).
Given Karim’s fame, he is growing up in a very different way than his dad, but the values remain the same. It has always been the most critical lesson shared between the Benzema’s to teach their children to work hard, respect others, and be loyal to each other. These are now being passed on to the next generation by Karim.
As well as his mother, Malika and father Hafid, Benzema was accompanied by his 5-year-old son for his Ballon d’Or coronation. There was no doubt that Benzema made mistakes during his career, including the saga involving former teammate Mathieu Valbuena. His Ballon d’Or win might not have been possible without them. In the process, he improved as a player and a person due to them.
Last season, he scored 44 goals in 46 matches for Real Madrid as they won the Champions League, another LaLiga title, the Spanish Super Cup, and the European Super Cup. “I’m proud of it,” said Benzema. “Even though I worked hard, I never gave up. I had a childhood dream like all kids.
I was motivated by Zidane and Ronaldo. Everything is possible to me. “During the difficult period when I wasn’t a member of the French team, I never gave up nor stopped working hard. My journey here has been incredible, and I am proud of how I kept my head and focused on playing football. The time wasn’t easy; it was challenging, and my family was affected. My work today pleases me for the first time, and I continue to work hard.
It was widely predicted that Robert Lewandowski would come in fourth place for the award. Benzema said on stage, “Despite not being in the French team for a long time, I never gave up or stopped working hard.” I am pleased with my work and proud of my journey here for the first time. It wasn’t easy, but it was difficult.
It is my pleasure to thank my teammates at Real Madrid and France, my coach and the president of Real Madrid who is here this evening, and the support of Jean-Michel Aulas [president of Lyon]. I would like to thank many people for this award. It is an individual award, but has been made up of the efforts of so many people.”