17 fun facts about Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema Did You Know
Everything you need to know about King Karim!

Karim Benzema is a French professional football player who currently plays as a striker for Real Madrid. He was born on December 19, 1987, in Lyon, France, and began his football career at a young age. Benzema is of Algerian descent and his parents are both initially from Algeria.

Benzema began his professional career with Lyon, where he quickly established himself as one of the most promising young talents in French football. He helped Lyon win the Ligue 1 title four times in a row (2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08), and was named the Ligue 1 Player of the Year in 2008. In 2009, Benzema moved to Real Madrid in a deal worth around €35 million, where he has since become one of the most successful and iconic players in the club's history.

Throughout his career, Benzema has been known for his impressive goal-scoring abilities, technical skills, ability to drop deeper and link with midfielders, and physicality. He is an excellent dribbler and is capable of creating scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.

Benzema has won numerous domestic and international titles with Real Madrid, including five UEFA Champions League titles and four La Liga titles. He is currently the second-highest goal scorer in the history of Real Madrid, with 342 goals, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

In addition to his success at the club level, Benzema had also been a key player for the French national team. He has represented France at several major international tournaments, including the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2008 and 2021 UEFA Euros, and has scored 37 goals for his country. He announced his retirement from the national team following the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Off the pitch, Benzema is known for his reserved and quiet personality. He rarely speaks to the media and prefers to keep his private life out of the public eye. Benzema is a devout Muslim and observes Ramadan, and he has been involved in several charitable causes over the years, including children's education and cancer research.

Benzema has also faced controversy throughout his career. In 2015, he was involved in a blackmail scandal that led to his exclusion from the French national team for several years. However, he was eventually reinstated to the team in 2021. Overall, Benzema is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of his generation, and a true icon of the sport.

  1. Fastest goal in El Clásico history

    During Real Madrid's record-breaking 2011-12 season, in which they won the league by bagging 100 points and scoring 121 goals, Benzema was responsible for another record.

    The-then 23-year-old scored the opening goal just 21 seconds after kick-off, which became the fastest goal ever scored in an El Clásico, a record that still stands today.

  2. Could have played for the Algerian national team

    Benzema was born to Hafid Benzema and Wahida Djebbara, who were French nationals of Algerian descent. Given his Algerian roots, the Algerian Football Federation tried to convince Benzema to represent the Algerian national team, but his heart leaned towards representing Les Bleus.

    "It's my parents' country, it's in my heart," the Frenchman stated in an interview with RMC in 2006.

    "But well, from a sporting perspective, it's true I'll play in the French team. I'll always be available for the French team.

    "It's more for the sporting side, because Algeria is my country, you see, my parents come from there. France, on the other hand ... it's more of a sport thing, that's it."

  3. Benzema was a ball boy for Lyon

    When he was just eight years old, Benzema began playing football for his local club, Bron Terraillon. When he scored twice against the Lyon Youth Academy in a U-10 match, he began drawing the attention of Lyon club officials.

    Officials from Lyon personally visited him and convinced Bron Terraillon to sell him. Serge Santa Cruz, the club's then-president, declined to sell him. The agreement was finalized after Lyon's representatives spoke with Benzema's parents. And that was the time when Benzema worked as a ballboy for Lyon's senior squad matches.

  4. Unafraid to express his mind in front of senior players at Lyon

    Unafraid to express his mind in front of senior players at Lyon

    Benzema had to communicate with the first-team players at Lyon who were already well-established when he was promoted to the first team. The first squad players that Lyon had at the time included Florent Malouda, Sylvian Wiltord, Eric Abidal, and Michael Essien, among others.

    Benzema was subjected to jokes when he first encountered these players, which he didn't find to be very amusing.

    He then declared, "Do not laugh, I'm here to take your place."

    And he kept his word.

    Benzema went on to make 148 appearances for Les Gones, scoring 66 goals, and helped Lyon continue their dominance in France at the time.

  5. Registered an assist on his debut for Lyon

    Benzema made his debut for Lyon's first team on January 15, 2005, in a Ligue 1 game against Metz. The-then 17-year-old came on in the 77th minute for Pierre-Alain Frau, with the deadlock yet to be broken.

    After Juninho opened the scoring in the 84th minute, Benzema teed up Bryan Bergougnoux, who made it 2-0 in the 86th minute.

    Coincidentally, both Bergougnoux and Benzema came off the bench at the same time.

  6. Scored on his debut for France

    Scored on his debut for France

    On November 9, 2006, Raymond Domenech gave Benzema his first call-up to the senior national team ahead of the team's upcoming friendly encounter against Greece, which was to be played on 15th November. However, an injury while playing for Lyon forced him to withdraw from the squad.

    He had to wait for over four months to make his debut for France, which came against Austria during their UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.

    Benzema started the match as a substitute. At half-time, the forward was brought on for Djibril Cissé and went on to score the only goal of the game, coming from a Samir Nasri free-kick.

  7. Two of his siblings were also footballers

    The third youngest child, Benzema grew up in the eastern Lyon suburb of Bron with eight other siblings. Gressy and Sabri, his younger siblings, were both football players.

    While Gressy was forced to leave football due to injuries in 2012, it has been reported that Sabri had a similar playing style to Karim and could have made a name for himself had he made the leap from semi-professional football instead of quitting.

  8. Benzema was advised to lose weight by Zinedine Zidane
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    Benzema was advised to lose weight by Zinedine Zidane

    Upon his return to Real Madrid as the sporting director ahead of the 2011-12 season, Zidane and Laurent Blanc advised Benzema to lose weight.

    He travelled to Merano, Italy, to a high-performance clinic where he received weight-loss therapy. The clinic stint was eventually successful because the striker was eight kilograms lighter when he reported for preseason.

    Benzema exercised physically to increase his muscle bulk while he was at the clinic. In the preseason, the striker was impressive, netting eight goals in seven games.

    Because of his preseason exploits, José Mourinho selected him as the team's lead striker. Later, Mourinho was given credit for Benzema's transformation, but he declined to take complete ownership and instead credited the striker.

    "Karim now views football the way I view football," the Portuguese manager stated ahead of the start of the season.

  9. Second oldest player to win the Ballon d'Or

    Second oldest player to win the Ballon d'Or

    Following his exploits in the 2021-22 season, where he won the Pichichi Trophy and was the highest goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League, in addition to winning both the league and the UCL, Benzema was awarded the 2022 Ballon d'Or award on 17th October, 2022. That made him the first Frenchman since Zidane (1998) to win this individual accolade.

    In doing so, he became the oldest player since Stanley Matthews to win the Ballon d'Or. Matthews won the award at the first-ever Ballon d'Or ceremony in 1956, aged 41 years and 10 months. When Benzema won the award, he was 34 years and 302 days old.

  10. Oldest player to score a Champions League hat-trick

    Oldest player to score a Champions League hat-trick

    When Real Madrid visited Stamford Bridge on 6 April 2022 to take on Chelsea in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, Benzema netted a hat-trick to become the oldest player to score a treble in Europe's most prestigious club competition, aged 34 years and 108 days.

  11. Most assists in Real Madrid history

    Benzema is already the second-highest goalscorer in Real Madrid history, with 342 goals to his name in 634 appearances.

    However, according to Transfermarkt, he has 164 assists too, which are more than any other player in the club's history.

    Coincidentally, while Ronaldo is the record goalscorer with 450 goals in 438 games, he is behind Benzema in the assists list with 130.

  12. Most appearances for Real Madrid by a non-Spanish player

    With 634 appearances, Benzema is Real Madrid's record appearance-maker as a foreigner. He is followed by Marcelo and Roberto Carlos, who made 546 and 527 appearances, respectively.

  13. Most goals scored by a French player in history

    Benzema is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, French players to ever step on a football pitch.

    However, by the time he hangs up his boots, he will be remembered as the greatest French goalscorer of all-time, ahead of Thierry Henry.

    The 35-year-old has scored 445 goals at senior level in 879 appearances, with 66 of those goals coming for Lyon, 342 for Real Madrid, and 37 for the France national team.

  14. Has his name in the Guinness Book of World Records

    Benzema holds the Guinness World Record for scoring in 18 consecutive seasons in the UEFA Champions League, starting from the 2005-06 season. Lionel Messi is the other player who he shares the record with.

  15. Among the very few players to have donned #9, #10, and #11
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    Among the very few players to have donned #9, #10, and #11

    Before Benzema joined Real Madrid, he was donning #10 on his back at Lyon. When he joined Los Blancos in 2009, he was handed #11 since Ronaldo was playing with #9.

    However, when club legend Raúl departed the club next summer, Cristiano chose his preferred #7, after which Benzema got #9. The French forward has been Real Madrid's #9, both figuratively and literally, ever since.

  16. Benzema is yet to operate his injured finger

    During a La Liga game against Real Betis on January 13, 2019, Benzema was on the receiving end of a collision with Betis defender Marc Bartra.

    The incident resulted in Benzema fracturing the little finger on his right hand and was advised to undergo surgery. However, he was also told that there would be a recovery period of two months.

    Given Real Madrid's problems during the 2018-19 season, Benzema decided against undergoing surgery in order to continue playing.

    The Frenchman did have an operation following the end of the 2018-19, but he didn't complete his rehabilitation, which prevented his finger from completely healing.

    "I did have an operation, but when you have surgery you have to be out for two months," he said in a press conference in October 2021.

    "I've hurt [the finger] again, but I don’t have time to stop and have another operation, so I wear the bandage when I'm playing."

    Benzema plays with the bandage on even to this day, and many believe that it works a good luck charm.

  17. A movie based on Benzema's life

    In 2017, a movie titled 'Le K Benzema', directed by Florent Bodin and Damien Piscarel, was released which shed light on Karim's journey from being a young boy in the streets of Lyon to being axed from the France squad in 2016.