Zinedine Zidane admits that he believes Karim Benzema is the best French striker of all time. The 34-year-old was awarded the 2022 Ballon d’Or on Monday night after a sensational season with Real Madrid – a season which has saw him score 44 goals and contribute 15 assists in 46 appearances en route to winning La Liga and the Champions League. Benzema has scored 15 goals in the latter competition alone, including a hat-trick against Paris Saint-Germain and crucial strikes against Manchester City in the round of 16. Ballon d’Or success saw Benzema become the first French player to lift the trophy since Zidane in 1998, and only the fifth – Michel Platini, Jean-Pierre Papin and Raymond Kopa, the illustrious company he joined. In an exclusive interview with French publication L’Equipe, Zidane spoke at length about Benzema’s success and admitted he considers the former Lyon hitman to be the greatest striker that the F rance has ever produced. Zidane also spoke about Benzema’s impact on his coaching career and his remarkable consistency over the past few years.
Is Benzema France the best striker of all time?
“The best striker in the history of French football? I don’t like to say ‘he’s the best’, everyone has their favorite player. Some will tell you it’s Jean-Pierre Papin with his exceptional goals, others will tell you about Michel Platini. …For me, it’s Karim, yes, because I worked with him and I know what it’s worth. » In any case, it deserves to be very high. I wish him to continue breaking records for a long time to come. and to shine on the pitch, with Real Madrid and with the France team. He is capable of going even higher. »
Benzema’s best assets
« Control is what gets things started and he does crazy controls. He never misses them, even from the chest. His movement controls are superb. It’s beautiful to see when you’re three meters away from him. “We sometimes said to each other that we would have liked to play together. I would have made him score a lot of goals, yes, really (smile). It didn’t happen, but we made up for it as a coach and a player. «
Benzema’s importance in Zidane’s managerial career
« Karim has been more than important in my career as a coach. These kind of players, like Toni Kroos or Luka Modric, when you are a coach you are happy to have them with you. They don’t lose a ball in one hour of training and in a match, at any time, they are able to make the difference. Karim may not be well for ten to fifteen minutes but in a flash he is able to score, score, perform incredible moves. »
Benzema’s legendary status at Real Madrid