Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has won the men’s Ballon d’Or for 2022.
The 34-year-old managed 44 goals in 46 matches last season as Real won the Champions League, another LaLiga title along with the Spanish and European Super Cups.
Benzema was crowned in a ceremony in Paris ahead of Sadio Mane in second and Kevin De Bruyne in third – with the striker becoming the first French winner of the Ballon D’Or since Zinedine Zidane – who presented him the award – in 1998.
The striker is also the oldest Ballon D’Or winner since Stanley Matthews won the first edition of the prize in 1956.
“It makes me really proud,” said Benzema. “All the work I did, I never gave up. It was a childhood dream like all kids [have]. 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.”
There was no success for Cristiano Ronaldo, as he had to settle for 20th place in this year’s Ballon D’Or honours board – the lowest position the Manchester United forward has been ranked in this prize since 2005.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah was voted as the fifth-best player, ahead of PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Champions League match-winner Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid.
Manchester City forward Erling Haaland finished in 10th place, just one place ahead of Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son and two over current club team-mate Riyad Mahrez.
Liverpool duo Fabinho and Virgil van Dijk finished in 14th and 16th place respectively, while Luis Diaz, Casemiro, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Darwin Nunez and Joao Cancelo made up the rest of the 25-man shortlist. – Sky Sports