Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema has won the Ballon d’Or – awarded to the best footballer of the year. It is the first time the amazing striker is winning the most coveted award in football.
The award could not have gone to any other footballer on the surface of the earth as Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 games as he helped Real Madrid to win the Champions League and La Liga in 2021-22 season.
Lionel Messi (seven) and Cristiano Ronaldo (five) had won the award on 12 of the previous 13 occasions. Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane, who was at Liverpool in 2021-22, was second ahead of Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne.
Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas retained the Women’s Ballon d’Or, awarded to the best best female footballer of 2022. England Euro 2022 winner and Arsenal forward Beth Mead was second. Premier League champions Manchester City, who had six nominees at the ceremony, were awarded Club of the Year ahead of Liverpool.
Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas with her prized award
The Ballon d’Or is awarded to the best footballer of the year, based on performance over the 2021-22 season. Monday’s ceremony in Paris saw French F1 driver Esteban Ocon arrive at the Theatre du Chatelet with the Ballon d’Or trophy in a racing car.
Benzema is the first Frenchman to win the prestigious award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998. Zidane was at the event to present his countryman with the prize. “This prize in front of me makes me really proud,” said Benzema. “When I was small, it was a childhood dream, I never gave up. Anything is possible.
“I’m really proud of my journey here. It wasn’t easy, it was a difficult time for my family as well.” Benzema was the overwhelming favourite to win this year’s award. His 44 goals included a hat-trick in 17 second-half minutes against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, and another away to Chelsea in the quarter-final first leg.
He also scored three more goals over two legs of the semi-final against Manchester City. The 34-year-old, who has been at Real Madrid since 2009, is expected to play a key role for France at the World Cup in Qatar which starts on 20 November. The Ballon d’Or is voted for by 100 journalists from around the world.
In the opposite side, Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas retained the Women’s Ballon d’Or, awarded to the best female footballer of 2022. The midfielder, 28, who won the award last year, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the summer and missed Spain’s Euro 2022 campaign.
Before her injury, Putellas was the Champions League top scorer for Barca last season with 11 goals in 10 games. Arsenal striker Beth Mead was second, with Chelsea forward Sam Kerr in third.
England’s Mead was named Euros 2022’s best player after winning the Golden Boot, given to the tournament’s top scorer, as the Lionesses secured their first major trophy with a 2-1 victory over Germany at Wembley.
The 27-year-old’s international team-mates Lucy Bronze and Millie Bright were also nominated, with Barcelona defender Bronze finishing in 10th place and Chelsea centre-back Bright coming 15th.