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Benzema talks Ballon d’Or, childhood idols and life after football



Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

As Karim Benzema won his first-ever Ballon d’Or in October, he only further solidified his legacy as one of the best strikers to ever grace the game.

Before the Frenchman was rightly recognised as the best player in Europe, GQ conducted an interview with the man himself ahead of the official ceremony that took place last Monday, relayed by AS.

Here are some of the key excerpts from an in-depth conversation with the Real Madrid icon.

On how he feels ahead of the Ballon d’Or: “Not [won it] yet, but ever since I was a kid, it has been one of my biggest goals and dreams. It wasn’t something I thought about every day, don’t think I went to training because I wanted to win the Ballon d’Or. But it’s always been in my head, since I was a kid.”

“I grew up with the generation formed by Zizou and Ronaldo, from Brazil. They won the Ballon d’Or. And I learned to love football by watching them. Last year, I finished fourth, I was among the finalists, but I had not won the big collective trophies. This year I have won everything.”

On what it would mean to win the Ballon d’Or: “One more dream that comes true. This one has a special meaning because it has been my goal since I was very young. All footballers dream of winning the Ballon d’Or one day.”

On his childhood heroes: “I would say that my heroes are my father and my mother. Because they had a very bad time, really bad. I didn’t have a soccer player as an example to follow.

“I’m not going to tell you that I’ve always managed on my own, but where I come from, I had to excel at something. At 15 or 16 I started to be inspired by Ronaldo, Zidane, and others to learn, but I never said: ‘I want to be like him.’

On walking onto the pitch with his children after winning the 2022 Champions League Final: “It’s an incredible feeling, it’s wonderful. It makes me very excited when my daughter or son comes to the stadium to see me, so happy. Also, my boy loves football. These are exceptional and extraordinary moments. I don’t know how to describe them.”

On the moments of his career that have defined him: “The first goal in the Champions League with Lyon. Later, when I debuted with Madrid. They were exceptional moments. Also, the first goal I scored. Then there are the most recent in the Champions League.

Although I had already won four Champions Leagues before, we had a great team. The fifth was more special. Not that I was more involved in it, but it felt like that.”

On his evolution at Real Madrid: “The beginnings were very difficult, because I was very young and very lonely in Madrid. I didn’t know the language.

“The first season was very difficult, but it also forced me to reflect and say: ‘This is not easy. I have talent, and everything I need to succeed at this club, but I have to find out what I need to improve to keep growing. If I continue at the level I’m at now, I won’t be able to succeed.’”

On whether he has had to change the way he trains or approaches games over time: “Maybe now, I train a little less, but it’s normal at the age. When I was 21, I didn’t need to train like crazy. I mean how football was before, today it is different. Then, of course, I had to change my style a bit, I had to adapt.”

On whether he ever doubts his abilities: “No, it’s actually more of a celebration. It is a matter of being good. The World Cup, the Champions League, for me are moments of celebration. Not everyone can play, for example, in the World Cup with the French team.”

On life after football: “I do not know. Maybe help young people to train, guide them to become good footballers who understand that being the best is actually more than scoring goals. I think we don’t train young players well in today’s football.

“If you ask them today, they just want to score goals. They all want to score. But not everything is that. I don’t want to get too far away from football.”

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid locker room angry with Barcelona midfielder’s ‘unsportsmanlike’ behaviour – report



Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

While the evident frustration among the Real Madrid players was quite visible following the recent 1-2 defeat against Barcelona, the feeling of vexation was not really limited on the field.

Journalist Mario Cortegana, while writing for The Athletic, has confirmed that once the players got into the dressing room, the environment had an air of anger and frustration. 

Players from each team had a go at each other right till the end, especially the likes of Dani Carvajal and Arnau Tenas, who had to be separated by several members from both teams.

Interestingly, before the aforementioned incident, Barcelona midfielder Gavi was already causing some trouble on the field. The youngster did not shy away from putting his body on the line throughout the game and it annoyed Madrid players to the extreme.

First, he pushed Carvajal in one incident and after that, he entangled himself in an off-the-ball clash with Dani Ceballos. The Madrid midfielder first had a collision with Robert Lewandowski and as the game moved on, Gavi made note of the incident.

During the run of play, Gavi pushed Ceballos with his shoulder and it did not settle well with the Madrid players and manager Carlo Ancelotti. The players and the manager were disturbed by Gavi’s behaviour and considered it ‘unsportsmanlike’.

On the other hand, there was frustration involving refereeing decisions as well. It must be remembered that in the 82nd minute, Marco Asensio found the back of the net to send the Madrid fans into a frenzy.

The celebration, however, was cut short as VAR disallowed the goal for an extremely tight offside. “We are sad, frustrated,” a dressing room source told The Athletic. “What happened? A guy looking at a TV in Madrid has decided La Liga.”

Ancelotti, on his part, said: “The disallowed goal? I don’t know, I really don’t know. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. I’m leaving with this doubt. If the VAR is sure.”

“I leave this match very proud. I don’t think we deserved to lose today,” he added.

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