The Real Madrid and France forward has won the 2021/22 UEFA Men's Player of the Year award.
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Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema has been named 2021/22 UEFA Men's Player of the Year.
The 34-year-old, who last season spearheaded Real Madrid's victorious UEFA Champions League campaign and helped France to UEFA Nations League success, held off competition from club-mate Thibaut Courtois and Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne.
"I'm really happy," he said as he collected his award. "It's the first time I've won this trophy but for me the most important thing is to win trophies with the team. Mr Ancelotti is the best coach in the world; he gets it right with every player, he gives us confidence and he tells you what to do before every match."
The award was announced during the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League group stage draw in Istanbul.
The top ten
1 Karim Benzema (Real Madrid & France) – 523 points
2 Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City & Belgium) – 122 points
3 Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid & Belgium) – 118 points
4 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern, now Barcelona & Poland) – 54 points
5 Luka Modrić (Real Madrid & Croatia) – 52 points
6 Sadio Mané (Liverpool, now Bayern & Senegal) – 51 points
7 Mohamed Salah (Liverpool & Egypt) – 46 points
8 Kylian Mbappé (Paris & France) – 25 points
9 Vinícius Junior (Real Madrid & Brazil) – 21 points
10 Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool & Netherlands) – 19 points
Why did he win the vote?
The French striker was named 2021/22 UEFA Champions League Player of the Season after driving Real Madrid on to a record 14th European title, and his fifth since he joined from Lyon in 2009. His final tally of 15 goals – including a joint-record ten in the knockout stages – earned him top spot in the competition scoring charts, with 27 in the Spanish Liga also a domestic best.
The evergreen 34-year-old started the campaign by helping France to UEFA Nations League glory and never looked back, consecutive hat-tricks in the Champions League knockout stages against Paris and Chelsea the highlights of a goal and trophy-filled season.
2021/22 in numbers
UEFA Champions League winner, UEFA Champions League Player of the Season, UEFA Nations League winner, Spanish Liga winner, Spanish Super Cup winner
UEFA Champions League
Player of the Match awards: 4
Top three performances
Real Madrid 3-1 Paris
Two down on aggregate in the last 16 with half an hour remaining, Carlo Ancelotti's men were heading out of the Champions League with a whimper. Step forward Benzema, who forced an error from Gianluigi Donnarumma to give his side hope before completing his hat-trick within 17 minutes to seal a sensational turnaround.
Chelsea 1-3 Real Madrid
Benzema carried on that form in the quarter-final first leg, this hat-trick taking a more modest 25 minutes to compile. Two terrific headers in a three-minute purple patch left the holders reeling and the treble duly arrived seconds after half-time as he pressed the hosts into submission.
Spain 1-2 France
Having kick-started Les Bleus' remarkable comeback against Belgium in their Nations League semi-final, he repeated the feat in the showpiece. Two minutes after falling behind, France levelled thanks to Benzema's stunning 66th-minute curling strike before going on to lift the trophy.
Who was last year's winner?
Jorginho won the 2020/21 UEFA Men's Player of the Year award after becoming only the tenth player to win a European Cup and a EURO in the same year. The midfielder inspired Chelsea to UEFA Champions League glory with his ability to dictate play and Roberto Mancini took note, making him the linchpin of Italy's EURO 2020-winning side.