Karim Benzema, Real Madrid striker, has won the men’s Ballon D’Or for the first time.
Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 matches last season for Real Madrid, which won LaLiga and the Champions League; Sadio Mane finished in second place while Kevin De Bruyne was third; Barcelona midfielder Gavi was given the Kopa Trophy as the best young player of the year.
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.