Why Benzema's Golden Ball is a victory for resilience and football?
Author: Clark Tos
Karim Benzema won the Golden Ball. A first since 1998 for a French footballer.
How could it be otherwise?
Unsurprisingly, Karim Benzema won the 66th Ballon d'Or on Monday evening, succeeding Zinedine Zidane, the last Frenchman to win the most famous individual award in football 24 years ago.
As a symbol, it was this same Zidane, who was his coach for long seasons at Real Madrid, who presented him with the prestigious trophy at the Châtelet theater in Paris, in front of the cream of the profession.
At the age of 34, Karim Benzema finally won the Grail, his 'childhood dream' as he recalled several times during this unforgettable evening.
Benzema or the embodiment of resilience
This consecration comes to reward a breathtaking 2021/2022 season but also an exceptional career, during which the native of Lyon has never ceased to get up despite criticism and extra-sporting road trips.
Beyond his formidable qualities in the game which are no longer to be demonstrated, his Ballon d'Or resonates above all as the triumph of resilience, as the Madrid native has gone through areas of turbulence before reaching the peaks.
Very clever whoever could have predicted such a coronation if only in the spring of 2021, when a rumor as crazy as improbable affirmed that Benzema - undesirable and banned from the Blues since the sordid affair of the sextape of sinister memory - was going to be recalled by national coach Didier Deschamps to compete in Euro 2021.
The rest, we know it!
Since then, the Real striker - whose CV already assured him a good place in the pantheon of French players - has constantly pushed the limits to the point of becoming the best footballer on the planet. All at 34, which makes him the oldest Golden Ball in history since Stanley Matthews (41), the first winner in 1956 and who was more rewarded for all of his work.
Reaching this level at an age when others, like Zidane, preferred to retire exhausted, says everything about what Benzema has achieved in recent years.
Despite criticism sometimes justified, sometimes unfair and sometimes - too often no doubt - motivated by considerations unrelated to football, he had the merit of never feeling sorry for his fate, for which he was partly responsible, working tirelessly to progress. and gain in maturity to the point of becoming an example of rigor, regularity and perseverance.
So many qualities that make the mark of the greatest, of those who change the destiny of their team by moving mountains.
You should have seen him last season carrying Real almost all by himself. First in La Liga then in the Champions League, a competition won by the people of Madrid at the end of a bewildering journey, which more than ever bears the mark of Benzema.
His leadership has thus burst the screen several times, like this communicative rage when he sounded the revolt in the round of 16 against the Parisian goalkeeper Donnarumma, with a decisive pressing gesture which perfectly sums up his determination.
And what about his Euro , where he was the only real French satisfaction (4 goals), or his 'final four' in the Nations League punctuated by two fantastic goals which revived the Blues against the Belgium then Spain.
Seeing him so strong and fulfilled in Blues, after all he had been through, almost looked like a mirage too perfect to be true, because his long crossing of the desert, linked to business and other risky speeches that he regrets maybe today - would have precipitated more than one towards the abyss.
But not Karim Benzema who never gave up and always knew how to bend his back to achieve the ultimate dream he had set for himself as a child on the grounds of Bron, when he imitated his idol Ronaldo with a mimicry that the 'we can still guess today in his gestures as elegant as they are effective.
The Brazilian legend was also present at the Théâtre du Châtelet last night to honor in turn Karim, who took the opportunity to entrust him with all the good he thought of him, stars in his eyes. The loop was closed
Photo credit: Screenshot / L'Équipe 21
Irreproachable in the field for years (including many spent in the service of Cristiano), the pure product of the Lyon formation has taken everything with humility, without ever reluctant to the task, even when his little buddies from Real went to the selection while he had to content himself with teasing the puff with the club's reserve team.
His determination more than his game is to be shown in all football schools, not to say in life, and it is no coincidence that his Ballon d'Or is today unanimously rarely seen in the last fifteen years. .
What more can we wish him now if not to finally triumph with the France team he loves so much, contrary to what many of his detractors wanted us to believe.
He will have the opportunity soon in a small emirate which is preparing to host the high mass of football, but that is another story.
For the time being, it is for him to savor this unique moment, even if knowing his personality, there is no doubt that he has already returned to work early this morning, once his Ballon d'Or has been carefully stored in his trophy cabinet. , already well stocked.
That must be what we call resilience!