Karim Benzema has been awarded the 2022 Ballon d’Or in a glittering ceremony at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
He succeeded Lionel Messi who received the prize last year.
Honestly, this is no surprise as Benzema has been the overwhelming favorite to win.
Sadio Mané, who led Senegal to victory in the Africa Cup of Nations, finished second, with Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne third.
Robert Lewandowski, tipped to be one of the frontrunners for the prize, came fourth.
Benzema had described winning the Ballon d’Or as his “dream since childhood.”
The Frenchman becomes only the second player aside from Messi and Ronaldo to win the award since 2008.
Real Madrid team-mate Luka Modric won the trophy in 2018.
“There was a difficult period where I wasn’t in the French team but I never stopped working hard or gave up,” Benzema said on stage.
“Really proud of my journey here. It wasn’t easy it was difficult. To be here today for the first time, I am happy, pleased for my work and want to keep going.”
“I want to thank all my team-mates at Real Madrid and France and my coach and the Real Madrid president who is here this evening and also the support of Jean-Michel Aulas [Lyon president].”
Aged 34, Benzema is the oldest Ballon d’Or winner since Stanley Matthews in 1956.
The Real Madrid striker scored 44 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions in the 2021-22 season and helped Real Madrid win La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.
Interestingly, the Ballon d’Or awarded has been awarded to Real Madrid players twelve times.
The former Los Blancos who won the prize include Alfredo Di Stefano, Raymond Kopa, Luis Figo, Ronaldo Nazario, Fabio Cannavaro, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric.
2022 Ballon d’Or Rankings
25: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)
25: Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
25: Mike Maignan (AC Milan)
25: Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea / Real Madrid)
25: Darwin Nunez (Benfica – moved to Liverpool)
25: Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)
22: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
22: Phil Foden (Manchester City)
22: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
21: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
20: Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus / Manchester United)
17: Luis Diaz (Porto / Liverpool)
17: Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina / Juventus)
17: Casemiro (Real Madrid – moved to Manchester United)
16: Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool)
14: Rafael Leao (AC Milan)
14: Fabinho (Liverpool)
13: Sebastien Haller (Ajax / Dortmund)
12: Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
11: Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur)
10. Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
9. Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
8. Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)
7. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
6. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
5. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
4. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich – moved to Barcelona)
3. Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
2. Sadio Mane (Liverpool – moved to Bayern Munich)
1. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
All the winners
Ballon d’Or: Karim Benzema (France, Real Madrid)
Women’s Ballon d’Or: Alexia Putellas (Spain, FC Barcelona)
Yashin Trophy: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium, Real Madrid)
Kopa Trophy: Gavi (Spain, FC Barcelona)
Gerd Müller award: Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Bayern Munich/FC Barcelona)
Socrates Prize: Sadio Mané (Senegal, Liverpool/Bayern Munich)
Club of the Year: Manchester City (England)