Real Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema has won the 2022 Ballon d’Or and becomes the fifth Frenchman to win the coveted prize.
Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 matches for Madrid last season, winning the UEFA Champions League and La Liga titles.
The 34-year-old won the award in Paris with Sadio Mane and Kevin De Bruyne coming in second and third respectively.
By winning the award, Benzema becomes the first Frenchman to win the award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.
The forward also becomes the second oldest to win the award after Stanley Matthews won the award at 41 years old in 1956.
“Winning this award makes me really proud,” said an elated Benzema. All the work I did, I never gave up. It was a childhood dream like all kids.
“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.”
Karim Benzema won the Ballon d’Or on his 10th nomination.
He becomes the second player aside from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the award since 2008. Luka Modric won the award in 2018 after guiding Croatian national team to a second place finish in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The Yashin Trophy went to Thibaut Courtois with Liverpool’s Alisson coming in second. Ederson and Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy were third and fourth respectively.
Sadio Mane won the inaugural Socrates Award for his charity work in his home country of Senegal.
Premier League champions Manchester City won the Club of the Year ahead of Liverpool.