Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema won his first career Ballon d’Or on Monday, October 17, becoming the second oldest player to win the award at age 34 and the oldest since Englishman Stanley Matthews who won the very first Ballon d’Or in 1956 at age 41.
He won the 2022 Ballon d’Or by the second biggest margin ever, beating Sadio Mane who came a distant second with 356 votes. Ronaldo’s 2016 Ballon d’Or victory, when he won the award for the fourth time, is the only other occasion where a player has won by more votes. Ronaldo beat Lionel Messi by 429 votes that year.
The Frenchman had a stellar 2021-2022 season, which included leading Real Madrid to the La Liga and Champions League double. He was the top goalscorer in La Liga last season with 27 goals from 32 games and registered a goal or an assist every 89 minutes in the Champions League, including hat-tricks against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.
It had been a foregone conclusion for months that Benzema would win the award as best player in the world given there was realistically no other player who came close to his achievements and trophy haul.
Despite sitting out the last few months due to an ACL tear in her left knee suffered in July, Barcelona star Alexia Putellas became the first woman to claim back-to-back Ballon d’Or trophies.
Fighting back tears during her acceptance speech, she admitted she didn’t think the Ballon d’Or would have been possible after missing out on the Euros with Spain. Before her injury, she won the domestic league title and led her team to the UEFA Champions League final.
Another Barcelona player took the Under-21 Player of the Year. Gavi succeeded teammate Pedri for the award crowning the best young men’s player. Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois was named goalkeeper of the Year, taking the Yashin Trophy. Robert Lewandowski won the Gerd Muller Award as the top striker for the second consecutive year after scoring 57 goals for club and country in 2021/22.
Ballon d’Or awards list
There were a total of seven awards that were handed out on Monday at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris for the 66th edition of the Ballon d’Or. It was the first time that the Socrates Award was handed out. The Gerd Muller Trophy and Club of the Year were awarded for the first time in 2021.
1. Men’s Ballon d’Or (Player of the Year): Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
2. Women’s Ballon d’Or (Player of the Year): Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)
3. Kopa Trophy (Best U-21 men’s player): Gavi (Barcelona)
4. Yashin Trophy (Best men’s GK): Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
5. Gerd Muller Trophy (Top scorer): Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona)
6. Socrates Award (for player acts of solidarity): Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich)
7. Club of the Year (club with most Ballon d’Or nominees): Manchester City