Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema received the Ballon d’Or award on Monday at a ceremony in Paris. His outstanding exploits helped Real Madrid win the Champions League and La Liga last season.
Since Zinedine Zidane won the award in 1998, Benzema has become the first Frenchman to receive it. He scored 44 goals in 46 matches for his team, including 15 in the Champions League.
Sadio Mane of Senegal’s national team and Bayern Munich fell to second position behind Benzema, who also helped France win the UEFA Nations League last year.
Third place went to Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne of Belgium, and fourth place went to Robert Lewandowski of Poland and Barcelona.
A stunning career comeback for Benzema, who was barred from the France team for five and a half years due to his involvement in a blackmail issue involving a sex tape involving teammate Mathieu Valbuena, is capped by his receipt of the prize, which is presented by France Football magazine.
Later, he was punished for his involvement in the scandal with a one-year suspended prison sentence and a 75,000 euro ($73,848) fine.
He did, however, re-join the national team for the European Championship last year, and he will now represent France at the World Cup in Qatar next month.
On December 19, the day following the World Cup championship, he will turn 35.
Since Stanley Matthews, the first winner of the Ballon d’Or in 1956, Benzema, is the award’s oldest recipient.
The former Lyon striker is also the fifth Frenchman to win the award; before Zidane did so in 1998, Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini, and Jean-Pierre Papin all took home the medal.