Home Education 2022 FIFA WC: Ballon do’r award winner Karim Benzema ready for more

2022 FIFA WC: Ballon do’r award winner Karim Benzema ready for more

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cometh the hour, Cometh the Man…Winston Churchill’s famous words come to mind when one thinks of Karim Benzema, the new Ballon d’Or winner. At 34, he may have been the oldest to win this coveted award that confirms his greatness in this sport but age is just a number when it comes to Benzema. The way he rampages around the goal area and creates those beauties, this French star’s heroics is already football folklore. And there is more to come from him as the world awaits the biggest event of all the World Cup to open up in Doha in less than a month. We have been hearing of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi bagging this award over the years in recent times, they have between them won it 12 times, so let’s call for a change! That seemed the feeling as a new star broke in to announce to the world of football what capabilities he had. Just put Real Madrid’s name besides this man, and google it, there is plenty to be had and that essentially is what brought him to the fore as the leader in his own right.

What a time to win an honour, when France, the defending world champion, is getting ready to defend the title! The path ahead is never easy as it never is. Only two nations, Italy and Brazil, have successfully defended their titles in the World Cup, but there is some comfort in the feeling that a champion footballer is in the team’s midst and everything can be planned around him. For national coach Didier Deschamps then Benzema’s new honour could not have come at a better time. It was Didier who brought him back from an over five-year exile and with great success in the UEFA Nations League competition last year, which France won. Benzema was the coach’s hero there. It was his exploits with Real Madrid that had opened the eyes of the people who matter in French football. Not in the national squad since 2015 after his dalliance with one controversy or other, the national coach was adamant initially not to bring this prized talent back, but when he did, he knew what he had missed. Perhaps there is more in store from this no-nonsense player known to be sharp and brainy upfront in the attack.

There is a touch of a Zinedine Zidane in him. Interestingly, like Zidane, Benzema too has Algerian descent, and added to that had his quota of problems in his younger days. But his football skills never suffered, as he established himself to be mentioned in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. His stay at Lyon helped him climb the ranks, and then when he came over to Real Madrid his shine began initially in partnership with Ronaldo and then on his own. If Ronaldo had the pace to disturb the rival defence, then Benzema injected the magic to produce goals. As seasons rolled by Benzema’s creative abilities rose in keeping with this stature. The amount of goodwill he had earned from Real Madrid stems from his massive contribution and stunning results. In this year itself, Benzema has been the top scorer and was involved in more goal-scoring involvements than any in La Liga. Today this French star is not just a master at his craft but one who is in control of the spaces around him and the ball at his feet.

Zidane himself speaks highly about his ward after the former French great had a big role in Benzema’s rise has been his coach at Real Madrid. In fact, under Zidane, Benzema had won two La Ligas and Champion League titles. “I am like an older brother to him,” Zidane would say of Benzema. After all, both rose with similar dreams and went on to become players who not only mattered for French football but established a name for themselves. Zidane considered it an honour to present the Ballon d’Or award to Benzema, describing him as one who was confident personified no matter what people (read critics) say.

Yet for all this Benzema has had a love-hate relationship with the French Federation, more because of his wayward ways. A time came, a year after France had won the World Cup in Russia in 2018 when this star player even contemplated severing allegiance with the country and trying out playing for Algeria, the country of his immigrant parents. Out of national favour, Benzema had his reasons for being frustrated, but his deeds in Real Madrid did help in the changed outlook. In particular with the way he combined with Ronaldo. The Portuguese player himself admitted the French man’s ability to turn things around with his off-the-ball movement and creativity. Deschamps was quick to see how vital his role would be alongside the fleet-footed Kylian Mbappe on the national side. The rest is now history. The man was in the thick of the action in France’s success in the 2021 Nations league.

Hopefully, Benzema would be there in Doha to pursue his next big dream! Deschamps is yet to finalise his squad, but he should be there is popular belief. Interesting days then ahead for world football.

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