Karim Benzema, the odyssey of the ‘shy boy’ who became a Real Madrid legend

It is the story of a boy. Or rather, of a young Gone, “discreet, shy“, long confined to the role of lieutenant of one of the best players in history. Karim Benzema, who seemed subscribed to a role of eternal second knife at Real Madrid, finally proved so sharp that he became the Top scorer in the history of France, the most successful tricolor player and with the most starts in the Champions League. He is already a Real Madrid legend, moving to Chelsea in C1 quarter-final first legWednesday April 6.

‘KB9’ has only worn three different jerseys in his professional career: that of his training club, Olympique Lyonnais, that of the France national team, since his first layer at 19, and that of Real Madrid, where he almost won it everything. At 34, the center forward is an example of longevity, stability and loyalty.

Arriving at the training center at the age of ten, Benzema learned all his skills at OL. But the young man back then didn’t stand out right away, even if his potential was obvious. Armand Garrido, former coach of the Olympique Lyonnais U-17, remembers a child”quiet, discreet, even shy“. The click, it is between his 15 and 17 years that he arrives”.His involvement in the field changed and he quickly turned professional.“The reason for this sudden outbreak?”He is a hard-working soccer enthusiast.“, Armand Garrido slips to franceinfo: sport, work and passion, two words that will mark his career.

Integrated into Lyon’s professional group in 2004, the striker played his first match in January 2005. Sidney Govou, who played for OL between 1999 and 2010, quickly understood that this young Gone was a striker of his time, that of the 2000s, marking the twilight of surface foxes. Benzema is different.”a player who not only scores goals“Insists the former Rhône winger.

The statistics prove him right: in addition to being the top scorer in the 2007-2008 season, Karim Benzema distributed six assists, which makes him the second striker in this classification. In the summer of 2009, after 148 games with the OL, it was time to take off, away from the Rhône, changing one white tunic for another.

The Rhodanien arrives at the same time as a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, Ballon d’Or and signing a new record, in a Madrid that is rebuilding a galactic era. The beginnings are irregular, and the French, in competition with Gonzalo Higuain, he doesn’t play all the time, to the point of not being selected for the 2010 World Cup.”Benzema is still in crisis, not only in goals but also in football identity“wrote the Spanish newspaper What in October 2009, the day after a defeat against AC Milan (2-3). “It seems that it has not yet arrived in Madrid.“, abounded Brand.

In 2010, José Mourinho, then in charge of Real, publicly criticized the Frenchman’s lack of aggressiveness and combativeness, while Higuaín’s injury forced him to settle down. “If you don’t have a dog to go hunting but you have a cat, then you take the cat, right? Because you can’t do it alone. We have a forward, Benzema.

An exit very little savored by the attacker, who will explain it with his coach in privacy. However, stingy for patience, the Royal leaders show leniency towards the French. “Northwe have a striker for ten years“, assures the then general manager Jorge Valdano. The club will always support him, even during the upheavals born of the sextape affairin November 2015, which earned him media custody and an indictment for “complicity in attempted blackmail and participation in criminal association”.

This unconditional support from the White House will allow Benzema to stay focused on the pitch. He grew up there intelligently, in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo. “He understood that he had to be a little less focused on the goal than Cristiano“, explains Sidney Govou to franceinfo: sport. For Alain Perrin, the striker becomes “a technical player, who likes to pass, who likes to play with his teammates“.

“When I was young, we always used it as a number 10.”

Armand Garrido, former OL coach

france info: sports

A not so surprising evolution, listening to his coach Armand Garrido. “He has always been surrounded by very good players in attack, from the academy with players like Loïc Rémy or Hatem Ben Arfa, reminds him of his coach in U17. When he was young, we wore him like a number 10 [milieu offensif]that revolved around the attacker.Taking a step back and leaving the star to Cristiano Ronaldo was therefore in his DNA, making him the faithful lieutenant of the Portuguese. Where CR7 scores from 41 to 61 goals per season, Benzema navigates between 17 and 28. But everyone agrees on one point: he is the man in the shadows, indispensable for the Portuguese.

But in 2018, Real registered Ronaldo’s departure. Is the time. Almost ten years after his arrival, Karim Benzema became the leader of the Merengues’ attack, scoring more than 30 goals per season. Orphan of his lieutenant, Ronaldo, he will not recover his gigantic performance once he has passed to Juventus in Turin. “He became the technical leader of the team, since since his return to the France national team“, analyzes Alain Perrin.

“He developed this ability to be a leader and reached an age where people listen to him and follow him.”

Sidney Govou

france info: sports

It is part of your progression. Greetings Sidney Govou. He developed this ability to be a leader. It was not necessarily innateRealization of this new stature: the captain’s armband recovered from the departure of captain Sergio Ramos last summer. Undisputed leader, he now passes to the new generation of the Real”.vinicius [son coéquipier brésilien de 21 ans] I didn’t teach him football, he trusted on The teamTuesday, April 5. (…) Now make the right decisions, think. This is what I taught him..”

This season, ‘KB nine’ is on the way to achieving its best exercise, with 32 goals and 13 assists in 34 games. His performance in the Parc des Princes, that upset the “galactic” PSG“, allows him to continue in the race to win a fifth Champions League… and why not dream of a first Ballon d’Or, who checked your system and that it could well crown a Frenchman as the first winner of its new version.

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