Benzema crowns France comeback with player of the year prize

January 15, 2022
Soccer
Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema has been named France Football’s national player of the year after a remarkable return to the national team.

France coach Didier Deschamps recalled Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema following a sex tape scandal involving a former teammate.

“It had been almost six years since I last played, I had to feel my way a little, watch, adapt. It didn’t take long,” Benzema, who turned 34 in December, told France Football in an interview published on Saturday.

Even though Benzema received a one-year suspended sentence in November, the France Football poll announced on Friday revealed that he had beaten Kyian Mbappe and N’Golo Kante to the top spot.

Former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena was the target of an attempted blackmail plot involving a sex tape, and Benzema is appealing his conviction for complicity in that plot.

Benzema has scored nine goals for France since his return.

He has worked well with both Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann as a traditional central striker.

“I find myself in the best circumstances” in the French team, he told France Football, saying that the partnership with Mbappe and Griezmann is “working well”, and has grown even “better” than when he first returned last summer.

“Now, when one drops, the other goes long, and vice versa. It’s better,” he said.

As France bounced back to win the Nations League and qualify for the 2018 World Cup, he ended the year on a high note, scoring five goals in four international matches.

“I just have to stay at this level,” he said. “Now we have to win collective trophies,” he said.

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