Recruited by Real Madrid CF from Olympique Lyonnais in 2009, Karim Benzema is a powerful, incisive, two-footed forward with an enviable eye for goal. Surprisingly overlooked for the last FIFA World Cup, he has reasserted himself at international level under Laurent Blanc, scoring several crucial goals.
• Born as one of ten children in a family of Algerian origin, he joined the Olympique Lyonnai academy aged nine, scored goals at a prolific rate throughout his youth and made his first-team debut in January 2005, less than a month after his 17th birthday.
• Represented France at every age level from Under-16 to U21 before making a goalscoring senior debut for Les Bleus in March 2007 during a Stade de France friendly against Austria; his first major tournament appearance came at UEFA EURO 2008.
• Scored on his UEFA Champions League bow, against Rosenborg BK in December 2005, before he had found the target at Ligue 1 level.
• Outstanding contributor to Lyon's title triumph in 2007/08 – their seventh in a row, his fourth – with 20 goals, the best in the division; also struck four times in the UEFA Champions League, including a crucial double at Rangers FC in a decisive group game.
• Registered 17 Ligue 1 goals, plus five in Europe, in his final term at Lyon prior to agreeing a six-year deal with Madrid, for whom he contributed a career-best total of 21 league goals in their title-winning 2011/12 season.
• Omitted from the 2010 FIFA World Cup squad despite scoring twice in eight qualification matches, he was named 2011 French player of the year by France Football Magazine for a record of 32 goals in all competitions for club and country.
UEFA European Under-17 Championship: winner 2004
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