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Karim Benzema: “I didn’t want to retire without winning the Ballon d’Or”

The Real Madrid forward spoke to Telefoot about the World Cup with France and winning the Ballon d’Or.

Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema poses on the pitch with his Ballon d'Or trophy at half time of the French L1 football match between Olympique Lyonnais (OL) and OGC Nice at The Groupama Stadium in Decines-Charpieu, central-eastern France, on November 11, 2022. (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Ahead of the upcoming World Cup, Karim Benzema spoke in an interview with Telefoot in France, where he discussed his season, France at the World Cup and what it means to have won the Ballon d’Or.

Benzema said he “didn’t want to retire from football until I won the Ballon d’Or”, adding that it is always a pleasure to return to his hometown Lyon, where he watched his former team Lyon play OGC Nice in Ligue 1 on Friday. He was then asked if Cristiano Ronaldo had sent him a message after collecting the Ballon d’Or, but there was no text from his former Real Madrid team-mate.

“I represent many youngsters, whether they are from neighbourhoods or not. So I’ve become an example for young people (...) With Zizou, we talked a bit about being exemplary and that every time we go out onto the pitch we think about everything around us and not just the ball,” he said when asked about becoming an example for youngsters after winning the Ballon d’Or.

Injury problems

Injuries this season have prevented him from playing in Real Madrid’s games before the World Cup. He added: “I’m doing well, I’ve had a few minor problems. It’s normal after so many games. I’ll be fit to play with the national team. There’s no problem with that. I had muscular discomfort. I could play, but I don’t like to play when I’m not 100%. I have prepared well physically, there are no problems. I’ll be ready on the 22 November against Australia, but we’ll see if I’ll start (laughs).”

World Cup with France

On the World Cup in Qatar, the 34-year-old said “it’s a source of pride to represent France at the tournament”. But the experienced forward is wary of his opponents. “All the French players think the same thing: on paper we’re the best side (in Group D). We mustn’t hide because we have a lot of talent in this team. We are favourites like Spain or Argentina. Every match is a final, so you have to win every match. And then the closer we get, the more you can think: ‘We have to win’.”