Karim Benzema was rewarded for his remarkable success with Real Madrid by winning the Ballon d’Or at a star-studded ceremony in Paris on Monday, while Spain’s Alexia Putellas retained the women’s prize.
Fifteen of his goals came in the Champions League, including hat-tricks in knockout wins against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea and three more across both legs of a stunning semi-final defeat of Manchester City.
The 34-year-old, who also won the UEFA Nations League with France, succeeds Messi with the Argentine not nominated this year after claiming the prize for the seventh time in 2021.
“The Ballon d’Or might be individual but it’s still a collective award. This is the Ballon d’Or of the people,” Benzema declared.
“Winning this trophy was always something that was in the back of my mind,” he added.