Karim Benzema of Real Madrid wins his first title.
Karim Benzema of Real Madrid and France has won the 2022 Ballon d’Or title on the men’s side after topping the 2021-22 season voting. The 34-year-old was the heavy favorite entering the Theatre du Chatelet and is now the first French winner since Zinedine Zidane with Juventus in 1998.
Following in the footsteps of Lionel Messi’s incredible seventh Ballon d’Or title had always been going to take something special, but that is exactly what Benzema delivered for Real Madrid in the 2021-22 season.
With 15 Champions League goals and two assists from 12 appearances, including an incredible haul of 10 knockout phase goals en route to the title, the Frenchman was always going to have a strong case.
However, 27 goals and 12 assists in 31 La Liga appearances as Real finished first, combined with Les Bleus’ UEFA Nations League victory, meant that no one could truly compete, individually or collectively. With 47 competitive goals and 16 assists across competitions, Benzema succeeds Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina’s Messi as the titleholder.
Benzema has five Champions League titles, four LaLiga titles, two Copas del Rey, four UEFA Super Cups, and four Spanish Supercopa in 13 years at Real Madrid.
Last season, Benzema received widespread praise for his performances in the Champions League, scoring 10 goals in Madrid’s knockout stage victories over PSG, Chelsea, and Manchester City en route to the club’s 14th European Cup.
“It gives me great pride to have this in front of me,” Benzema said after finishing ahead of Sadio Mane, Kevin De Bruyne, Robert Lewandowski, and Mohamed Salah to become the award’s oldest winner since Stanley Matthews in 1956.
“I think back to all of the hard work that I have put in since I was a child; I always had motivation thanks to my two role models, Zizou (Zinedine Zidane) and Ronaldo (Nazario), but I did not give up. Difficult periods strengthened me mentally, including not being part of the international setup; I never gave up and kept enjoying my soccer.”
“I’d like to thank my teammates at Real Madrid and the national team, as well as my president [Florentino Perez], who is like family to me, and also the Lyon academy and president [Jean Michel] Aulas, because it was thanks to him that I was able to fulfill my dream of playing for Real Madrid,” Benzema added.
He returned to the France national team after a six-year absence to help them win the UEFA Nations League in 2021 and is expected to lead their attack at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Lionel Messi won the award in 2019 and 2021, but there was no Ballon d’Or in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cristiano Ronaldo had to settle for 20th place in this year’s Ballon D’Or honors board, the lowest position the Manchester United forward has held in this prize since 2005.
Mohamed Salah of Liverpool was voted the fifth-best player, ahead of PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior, who won the Champions League.
Earlier in the ceremony, Barcelona midfielder Gavi was awarded the Kopa Trophy, which is given to the best player under the age of 21.
Manchester City forward Erling Haaland finished 10th, one place ahead of Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son and two places ahead of current teammate Riyad Mahrez.
Meanwhile, Robert Lewandowski won the Gerd Muller award for a best striker of the year, and Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid won the Lev Yashin award for best goalkeeper.
The Ballon d’Or organizers have added a humanitarian award named after the late Brazilian midfielder Socrates. Mane received the award for his charitable work in Senegal, which included the construction of a hospital and donations to schools.