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K. Benzema

'It wasn't easy' - Benzema reflects on 'difficult journey' after being crowned 2022 Ballon d'Or winner

21:41 BST 17/10/2022
20221017 Karim Benzema
Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema admitted his career hasn't always been easy after landing the Golden Ball for the first time.
  • Benzema wins Ballon d'Or
  • Says it's been a difficult journey
  • Still has a 'burning desire' to play

WHAT HAPPENED? The Frenchman shared his thoughts on his career after winning the Ballon d'Or for the first time at the age of 34. Benzema claimed the prize after scoring 44 goals in 46 games for Real Madrid last season and winning the league title in Spain and the Champions League. Sadio Mane finished in second place and Kevin De Bruyne came third.

WHAT THEY 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 said. "I’m really proud of my journey here, it wasn’t easy, it was difficult, for me and my family. Age is just a number for me. People play until their later years now and I still have this burning desire. It is this drive that has kept me going and never allowed me to let up. It kept this dream alive and was the fire behind me. I just want to make the most if it."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: It's no surprise to see Benzema scoop the award after a sensational season for Carlo Ancelotti's side. The striker spent a large part of his career playing second fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo but has thrived in recent years and become Madrid's talisman. Benzema also returned to the France national team after a six-year absence and was part of the side that won the 2021 Nations League.

IN THREE PHOTOS:

DID YOU KNOW? Benzema is the oldest player to win the Ballon d'Or for the first time since Stanley Matthews in 1956.

WHAT NEXT FOR BENZEMA? The Frenchman is due to return to action for Real Madrid on Wednesday in La Liga against bottom side Elche.