Benzema wins Ballon d’Or

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema poses with the Ballon d’Or trophy at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France on Oct. 17, 2022.

French striker Karim Benzema claimed the 2022 Ballon d’Or here on Monday after a dazzling season with Real Madrid which saw the Spanish giants win both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.

Spain’s Alexia Putellas won the women’s trophy for the second year in a row following another stellar season with Barcelona.

The first French player to win the prestigious individual football prize since Zinedine Zidane in 1998, Benzema had his best season ever at Madrid, finishing with 44 goals in 46 matches and becoming the top scorer in both domestic and continental tournaments.

A highlight for the 34-year-old came in the knockout stages of the Champions League when he grabbed two consecutive hat-tricks against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, and Chelsea in the quarterfinals.

“It’s a collective victory. It’s an individual trophy but without your teammates, you can’t score. Sometimes you might get a screamer but, for me, football is a collective sport and I will always be a team player,” Benzema said.

For the first time in the award’s history, the Ballon d’Or was awarded based on the performance of the past season, not according to achievements in a calendar year.

Senegalese forward Sadio Mane, who moved to Bayern Munich from Liverpool this summer, came second, while Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne of Belgium was third.

Barcelona’s summer signing Robert Lewandowski was named the best striker for the second year in a row, with the Pole also ranking fourth in the overall Ballon d’Or list. Fellow Barcelona midfielder Gavi won the Kopa Trophy for the best young player.

Benzema’s club teammate Thibaut Courtois was awarded the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper.

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