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“It makes me really proud,” said Benzema. “All the work I did, I never gave up. It was a childhood dream like all kids – the motivation.”

Kareem Benzema has been crowned the winner of the 2022 Ballon d’Or ahead of Sadio Mane and Kelvin De Bruyne both finished second and third respectively; Barcelona midfielder Gavi was given the Kopa Trophy as the best young player of the year.

34-year-old Benzema 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.

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He is the first French winner of the Ballon D’Or since Zinedine Zidane – who presented him the award – in 1998.

Benzema 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 – the motivation. 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.”

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