Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has won the men’s Ballon d’Or for 2022.
The 34-year-old managed 44 goals in 46 matches last season as Real won the Champions League, another LaLiga title along with the Spanish and European Super Cups.
Benzema was crowned in a ceremony in Paris ahead of Sadio Mane in second and Kevin De Bruyne in third – with the striker becoming the first French winner of the Ballon D’Or since Zinedine Zidane – who presented him the award – in 1998.
The striker is also the oldest Ballon D’Or winner since Stanley Matthews won the first edition of the prize in 1956.
“It makes me really proud,” said Benzema. “All the work I did, I never gave up. It was a childhood dream like all kids [have]. I had two motivations in my life – Zidane and Ronaldo. I’ve always had this dream in my mind that anything is possible.
“There was a difficult period where I wasn’t in the French team, but I never stopped working hard nor gave up. I always kept my head, concentrated on playing football and I’m really proud of my journey here. It wasn’t easy, it was a difficult time. It was hard for my family as well. To be here today, for the first time for me, I’m happy and pleased with my work and I keep going.
“I want to thank my team-mates, whether it’s Real Madrid or the national team. My coach, thanks to him as well. The Real Madrid president as well.
“I have a lot of people to thank. It’s an individual prize, but it’s a collective one because everyone has played a role.”
The full men’s Ballon D’Or award rankings
1st – Karim Benzema (Real Madrid and France)
2nd – Sadio Mane (Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Senegal)
3rd – Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City and Belgium)
4th – Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Poland)
5th – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt)
6th – Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain and France)
7th – Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid and Belgium)
8th – Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid and Brazil)
9th – Luka Modric (Real Madrid and Croatia)
10th – Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Norway)
11th – Heung-Min Son (Tottenham and South Korea)
12th – Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City and Algeria)
13th – Sebastian Haller (Ajax, Borussia Dortmund and Ivory Coast)
Joint 14th – Fabinho (Liverpool and Brazil), Rafael Leao (AC Milan and Portugal)
16th – Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool and Netherlands)
Joint 17th – Luis Diaz (FC Porto, Liverpool, and Colombia), Casemiro (Real Madrid, Manchester United and Brazil), Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina, Juventus and Serbia)
20th – Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United and Portugal)
Joint 22nd – Bernardo Silva (Manchester City and Portugal), Phil Foden (Manchester City and England), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool and England)
Joint 25th – Darwin Nunez (Benfica, Liverpool and Uruguay), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig and France), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City and Portugal), Mike Maignan (AC Milan and France), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea, Real Madrid and Germany), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich and Germany)
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