Karim Benzema

Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema has won the Ballon d’Or – awarded to the best footballer of the year – for the first time.

Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 games as he helped Real win the Champions League and La Liga in 2021-22.

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.

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.”

Ballon d’Or results

1. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France).

2. Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich, Senegal).

3. Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium).

4. Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona, Poland).

5. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Egypt).

6. Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain, France).

7. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid, Belgium).

8. Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid, Brazil).

9. Luka Modric (Real Madrid, Croatia).

10. Erling Haaland (Manchester City, Norway).

11. Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur, South Korea)

12. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City, Algeria).

13. Sebastien Haller (Borussia Dortmund, Ivory Coast).

14. Fabinho (Liverpool, Brazil) tied with Rafael Leao (AC Milan, Portugal).

16. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool, Netherlands).

17. Luis Diaz (Liverpool, Colombia) tied with Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus, Serbia) and Casemiro (Manchester United, Brazil).

20. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, Portugal).

21. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur, England).

22. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, England) tied with Phil Foden (Manchester City, England) and Bernardo Silva (Manchester City, Portugal).

25. Joao Cancelo (Manchester City, Portugal) tied with Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich, Germany), Mike Maignan (AC Milan, France), Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid, Germany), Darwin Nunez (Liverpool, Uruguay) and Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig, France).

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