Karim Benzema was awarded the Ballon d’Or at a star-studded event in Paris on Monday in recognition of his extraordinary achievement with Real Madrid. At the same time, Spain’s Alexia Putellas retained the women’s award.
Since Zinedine Zidane in 1998, Benzema has become the first Frenchman to win the most coveted individual accolade in sports. Benzema led Real Madrid to the Champions League and La Liga titles last season with 44 goals in 46 appearances for his team.
He scored 15 goals in the Champions League, including hat-tricks in victories against Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, as well as three more goals throughout the two legs of a devastating semifinal loss to Manchester City.
READ MORE: League leaders Arsenal held on to win at Leeds in a dramatic finish
The 34-year-old replaces Lionel Messi, who was not nominated this year after winning the award for a record-tying seventh time in 2021 and also won the UEFA Nations League with France.
The Ballon d’Or may be given to a person, but it is still a communal honor, according to Benzema.
He said, “Winning this trophy was always on my mind.
Sadio Mane was knocked into second place by Benzema. Still, the Senegal and Bayern Munich star did get recognition for his off-field efforts when he received a new award named after former Brazil hero Socrates.
Third place went to Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, while fourth place went to Robert Lewandowski of Barcelona.