After an outstanding season with Real Madrid, Karim Benzema grabbed the men’s Ballon d’Or for the first time on Monday. With Madrid, he scored 44 times and equalized Raúl González as the club’s second-highest goal scorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
“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 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.”
Alexia Nutella, a Spanish player has won the women’s trophy for the second consecutive year. She had a brilliant season with Barcelona as she collected 42 goals and delivered 22 assists last season. Her extraordinary performances helped her to win the award twice.
“It makes me even more annoyed to be injured, but I am very happy to be here,” Putellas said.
“To retain the trophy is much harder. When I injured my knee I thought my chances of winning it had gone but in the end the jury based their decision on the whole of last season, of which I only missed one month.”
Benzema has taken the place of Lionel Messi who won the award for the seventh time last year. After Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini, Jean-Pierre Papin, and Zinedine Zidane, Benzema became the fifth Frenchman to win this award. The France team that won at the 2018 World Cup, Benzema was not part of that squad. But he will be taking part in the tournament in Qatar next month.
Despite the presence of players like Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo, Benzema played a vital role last season to power Madrid to a record-extending 14th European title. He was the leading goal scorer in that tournament.