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Karim Benzema becomes the oldest Ballon d’Or winner in 66 years
- Updated: October 18, 2022
“Age is just a number,” says Karim Benzema after winning the Ballon d’or at 34. Benzema became the oldest winner since the first recipient in 1956, Stanley Matthews.
“People play until their later years now and I still have this burning desire. It is this drive that has kept me going and never allowed me to let up,” said Benzema, who won the men’s Ballon d’Or for the first time.
Benzema is the first French player to win the trophy since Zinedine Zidane in 1998 and the fifth after Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini and Jean-Pierre Papin.
Benzema had his best season ever at Madrid, being the top scorer in both La Liga and the Champions League. He scored 44 times for Madrid, including 15 in Europe’s top competition, and equaled Raul Gonzalez as the club’s second-highest scorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
Benzema won ahead of Sadio Mané and Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne. Mané played for Liverpool last season and joined Bayern Munich in the summer.
Benzema was not part of the France squad that triumphed at the 2018 World Cup in Russia but, barring an injury, will compete at the tournament in Qatar next month.
After nearly six years out following his involvement in a sex tape scandal, Benzema was recalled by France coach Didier Deschamps last year ahead of the European Championship and has played regularly since.
“There were much more difficult moments for me when I was not selected (with France) and I did not give up,” Benzema said after Zidane, his former coach at Madrid, handed him the trophy. “I am really proud of my career. This is the Golden Ball of the people.”
Back-to-back Ballon d’Or for Alexia Putellas
Spain and Barcelona’s midfielder Alexia Putellas won the women’s trophy for the second straight year following another standout season with Barcelona.
Putellas, who was also named FIFA Best Women’s Player earlier this year, was top scorer in the Champions League last season with 11 goals and scored 18 in the Primera Division.
The 28-year-old missed the Euros for Spain, however, after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury on the eve of the tournament in England.