Monday’s ceremony in Paris saw French F1 driver Esteban Ocon arrive at the Theatre du Chatelet with the Ballon d’Or trophy in a racing car. He stands as the first Frenchman to win the prestigious award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998. Zidane was at the event to present his countryman with the prize. Zidane guided the French national team to their maiden FIFA World Cup title in the same year. Zidane also won three back-to-back UEFA Champions League titles when the French maestro was the head coach of Los Blancos.
Benzema was the overwhelming favourite to win this year’s award. He scored 44 goals and provided 15 assists in 46 games, winning both La Liga and UEFA Champions League trophies with his club.
Benzema’s Real Madrid teammate goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who won the 2022 Yacine Award, has been in blistering form for the Spanish champions. He produced a phenomenal performance against English champions Manchester City in the Champions League final last year.
The blue side of Manchester won the Club of the Year award, having had six nominees in the final Ballon d’Or list. Barcelona took home the Kopa Trophy, which is presented to the young player of the year, the second time in a row with Gavi winning the award for the Catalunia side.
Alexia Putellas of FC Barcelona won the Women’s Ballon d’Or 2022, with Arsenal’s Beth Mead being a close second.
Zizou is a big brother. He was my coach (at Real from 2016-18 and 2019-21), and it means a lot to me. He’s the best French player in history, so it makes it even more special,” Benzema said after collecting the Ballon d’Or trophy from Zidane. Benzema smashed 44 goals in 46 games for La Liga giants Real Madrid last season. Leading Carlo Ancelotti’s men to their fourteenth European title, Benzema netted 15 goals in the 2021-2022 season of the UEFA Champions League. Benzema also won the UEFA Nations League title with France in the previous season. The veteran striker pipped Sadio Mane, Kevin De Bruyne, and Robert Lewandowski to win his maiden golden ball in Paris.
Ballon d’Or Rankings
1. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France)
2. Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich, Senegal)
3. Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium)
4. Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona, Poland)
5. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Egypt)
6. Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain, France)
7. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid, Belgium)
8. Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid, Brazil)
9. Luka Modric (Real Madrid, Croatia)
10. Erling Haaland (Manchester City, Norway)
11. Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur, South Korea)
12. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City, Algeria)
13. Sebastien Haller (Borussia Dortmund, Ivory Coast)
14. Fabinho (Liverpool, Brazil) tied with Rafael Leao (AC Milan, Portugal)
16. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool, Netherlands)
17. Luis Diaz (Liverpool, Colombia) tied with Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus, Serbia) and Casemiro (Manchester United, Brazil)
20. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, Portugal)
21. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur, England)
22. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, England) tied with Phil Foden (Manchester City, England) and Bernardo Silva (Manchester City, Portugal)
25. Joao Cancelo (Manchester City, Portugal) tied with Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich, Germany), Mike Maignan (AC Milan, France), Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid, Germany), Darwin Nunez (Liverpool, Uruguay) and Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig, France).