Jose Mourinho says Karim Benzema is “obsessed with his team” – which is what helped him eventually win the Ballon d’Or at the age of 34.
The Real Madrid star became the fifth Frenchman to claim the award after his superb year in the Spanish La Liga.
Benzema was the leading light for Los Blancos as they won La Liga and the UEFA Champions League, with those exploits helping the attacker claim the Golden Ball.
Benzema became the oldest winner of the award since Sir Stanley Matthews, the first recipient back in 1956, which reveals his journey to the top.
Mourinho managed the player during his three years at the Bernabeu, when Cristiano Ronaldo was the team’s main man.
It was only after Ronaldo left that Benzema assumed the mantle of being Madrid’s main man. That responsibility has seen him reach new heights, but Mourinho says the forward’s desire to put the team first was behind his wait for the award.
The Special One said in a tribute to Benzema: “Karim is a great character, great personality, a team guy. He is not obsessed with himself, he is not obsessed with the Ballon d’Or, he is not a guy obsessed with scoring more goals than A, B or C.
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‘’He is just a team guy who does a lot in a way that the Ballon d’Or that becomes a natural consequence. I think he is a guy obsessed with his team.”
Benzema paid tribute to his teammates after receiving the award, which was presented by Zinedine Zidane.
The forward said that his accolade could not have been achieved without the efforts of his teammates. He said: The Ballon d’Or is an individual prize but it is still a collective one for everyone who’s helped me win it.”
Karim Benzema has added the Ballon d’Or award to his trophy cabinet after an incredible year with Real Madrid.
The Frenchman hailed his two role models – Zidane and Ronaldo – having received the award. He said: “This makes me really proud, all the work I did, I never gave up. I had two role models in my life, Zidane and Ronaldo as well. I always had this dream in my mind that everything’s possible.
‘’There was a difficult period where I wasn’t in the French team but I worked hard and never gave up, kept my head down and enjoyed playing football.”