Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema wins Ballon d'Or award

The 34-year-old took the top prize for the first time, finishing ahead of Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane with Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne in third place.
Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema wins Ballon d'Or award

By PA Sport Staff

Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema has won the men’s Ballon d'Or award.

The 34-year-old took the top prize for the first time, finishing ahead of Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane with Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne in third place.

Benzema helped Los Blancos win the Champions League, defeating Liverpool in the final.

“To see this prize in front of me makes me really proud. It was a childhood dream for me and all the work I have done, I never gave up,” he said after collecting the 2022 Ballon d’Or.

“I always had in my mind that anything was possible, when I was not in the France team I never stopped working hard.

“I am really proud of my journey here. It was not easy, it was a difficult time and also for my family as well.

“To be standing here today for the first time, I am happy for my work and will keep going.”

Meanwhile, Spain midfielder Alexia Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or for the second successive year.

Putellas suffered a knee injury ahead of the start of Euro 2022, where Arsenal striker Mead went on to be top scorer and was named player of the tournament as the Lionesses soared to victory on home soil when they beat Germany in the final at Wembley.

“I’m very happy to be back here and pleased because a year ago I was able to win this prize and it pushed me to want to be even better,” Putellas said on collecting the trophy at a gala ceremony in Paris.

“Injuring my knee in July, I did not think it would be possible (to win this award).”

England Euro 2022 winners Lucy Bronze and Millie Bright had also been nominated for the women’s prize, ranking 10th and 15th respectively in the France Football poll.

The Kopa Trophy for the best performing player under 21 went to Barcelona’s Gavi, with England and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham having also made the final shortlist.

Bayern Munich forward Sadio Mane at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris
Bayern Munich forward Sadio Mane was honoured at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris (Francois Mori/AP)

The Socrates Award, named after Brazil’s 1982 World Cup captain, for the best social initiatives within the game went to Bayern Munich forward Sadio Mane, who has helped build hospitals and school in his homeland Senegal.

The Gerd Muller trophy for the best striker again went to Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, who joined Barcelona from Bayern Munich during the summer.

“I want to also thank my team-mates from both Bayern Munich and Barcelona, because I know how hard we have to work to score the goals,” Lewandowski said on receiving his award.

“The whole team has to work in the same way, in the end I have to be in a good position to score the goals and ready to help my team-mates.”

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