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Zinedine Zidane couldn't stop smiling whilst announcing Karim Benzema as Ballon d'Or winner

Ryan Sidle

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Zinedine Zidane couldn't stop smiling whilst announcing Karim Benzema as Ballon d'Or winner

Karim Benzema's Ballon d'Or win came as a surprise to literally no one, but that didn't stop Zinedine Zidane smiling from ear to ear when he found out.

Ever since Real Madrid won the Champions League in May, defeating Liverpool in the final, it was obvious that Benzema was going to win the golden ball trophy.

His goals in the tournament had helped his side win the last 16, quarter finals and semi finals and the only players who could have stopped him, realistically, were playing for Jurgen Klopp's side in France.

Following the win in Paris, Thierry Henry called on France Football to end the voting process because his fellow countryman was the obvious deserved winner.

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On Monday, it came to pass that Henry was right, with the former Lyon man named the winner, not that it needed the Arsenal legend to point out the most obvious winner in the past few years.

Benzema beat Sadio Mane, who was playing for Liverpool last season, and Kevin de Bruyne into second and third to become the first Frenchman since Zidane to be named the best footballer in the world.

The former Real boss was given the task of announcing the final five names on the list, including the winner, and he could be seen smiling throughout the announcement.

He then gave Benzema a big embrace, as the 34-year-old went up on stage to pick up the award.

Zidane managed Benzema during two spells as the boss at the Bernabeu, in which the team won three Champions League finals in-a-row.

The former midfielder left the club for the second time at the end of the 2020/21 season, with Carlo Ancelotti taking over from his predecessor.

That move back to Ancelotti then led to Real winning the Champions League and La Liga double a year later, in which Benzema became their most important player.

With Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos having moved on from Los Blancos in recent years, he has become their main talisman, when previously he was often more of a workhorse, especially for Ronaldo.

Zidane won the trophy back in 1998, after leading his country to their first World Cup win, including scoring two goals in the final against Brazil.

The current national team will be hoping to defend their own world crown in Qatar next month, although Benzema wasn't in the squad when they won it four years ago.

Monday night's award is actually a blow to their chances in the Middle East, with no holder of the Ballon d'Or having ever won the tournament.

In the past, the World Cup has obviously been a big consideration in handing out the end of year awards but that isn't the case this year for two reasons.

The tournament has been moved in the calendar from its usual summer position to the winter and the Ballon d'Or has also changed, from an award given out over a calendar year to one given for performances in the season.

Featured Image Credit: Ballon d'Or

Topics: Real Madrid, Karim Benzema, Ballon d'Or, Zinedine Zidane, France

Ryan Sidle
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