The Karim Benzema story: From being banned from the France national team to winning the Ballon d'Or

The Karim Benzema story: From being banned from the France national team to winning the Ballon d'Or

Bertha Wanjiku
October 28, 2022 at 7:26 AM

Karim Benzema's career goals were to buy a house for his mother, play for Real Madrid and win a Ballon d'Or, and he managed to tick the last item off quite recently. His story is about resilience and patience to see his dreams come true. He is regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation.

The Karim Benzema's story
Karim Benzema of Real Madrid during the La Liga Santander match between Sevilla FC and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on 17th April 2022, in Seville, Spain. Photo: Jose Breton
Source: Getty Images

Karim Benzema is Real Madrid's second-best goal-scorer and best assist provider. At the beginning of his career, he realized that talent was not enough and sought help to get in shape. This article tells the story of his determination through thick and thin to earn the most coveted prize in the football world.

Profile summary


Karim Mostafa Benzema

Place of birth

Lyon, France

Date of birth

19 December 1987


34 (as of October 2022)

Zodiac sign







Hafid and Wahida Djebbara




Jordan Ozuna


1.85m or 6 ft. 1."


80kg or 172lbs



Current club

Real Madrid



Net worth

$70 million

Social media

Instagram, Twitter

Karim Benzema's life story

The prolific footballer was a reserved kid in Lyon who loved football and dreamt of becoming the best striker globally. He started in Ligue 1 team, Lyon, and achieved one of his childhood dreams after moving to Real Madrid in 2009. As of October 2022, he still plays for Los Blancos, achieving many honours and accolades, with the Ballon d'Or being the most recent win.

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Karim Benzema's childhood

Who are Benzema's parents? The star's mother was born and raised in Lyon, while his dad, Hafid, came to France from Algeria. On 19th December 1987, the third youngest son of their eight kids was born in Lyon. The family home was close to Karim's first club, SC Bron Terraillon, where scouts discovered his talent at eight. He then joined the Lyon Football Academy in 2007 and ascended the various categories to the senior team.

Karim Benzema: From being banned from the France national team to winning the Ballon d'Or
Olympique Lyonnais striker Karim Benzema dribbles the ball on 4th March 2008, during a UEFA Champions League match against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Photo by ANDREW YATES/AFP.
Source: Getty Images

Karim Benzema's career

The celebrated player's tenure at Lyon was impressive, scoring 43 goals in 112 appearances. His most impressive season was 2008-09, when he won the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award, the Trophée du Meilleur Buteur for being the league's top scorer, the Bravo Award for being the most outstanding young footballer in Europe, and was shortlisted by France Football for the Ballon d'Or award, eventually won by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Real Madrid career

Lyon agreed to trade the prolific striker to Real Madrid for $41 million in July 2009. Coincidentally, Cristiano Ronaldo also joined Los Blancos at the same time, and Benzema lived in his shadow for almost a decade till he left in 2018 for Juventus. Other honors he was awarded at Madrid include:

  • 4X La Liga Champions
  • 6X UEFA Champions League winners
  • 2X Copa Del Rey winners
  • 4X French Player of the Year
  • 4X Real Madrid Player of the Season
  • Pichichi Trophy winner
  • 4X Best French Player Abroad
The Karim Benzema story: From being banned from the France national team to winning the Ballon d'Or
Real Madrid's forward Karim Benzema plays during the Spanish League match between them and CA Osasuna at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on 2nd October 2022. Photo by JAVIER SORIANO.
Source: AFP

France national team

Benzema was consistently part of the France national team from 2007, except for a suspension period between 2015 and 2020. He is one of the most-capped French national team players, with 97 appearances and 37 goals. Before his Les Bleus career, he had been approached by the Algerian Football Federation to represent his parents' native country, but he declined. He is ranked the 5th Top Goal-scorer for the National team, with the best being Thierry Henry, with 51 goals.

Ballon d'Or 2022

For the first time since its inception in 1956, the French magazine France Football awarded the 2022 "Golden Ball" to the best male footballer of the season and not the calendar year. In August, the French player was nominated for the 12th time in his career and was announced as the winner on 17th October 2022, making him the second Frenchman to win the trophy after Zinedine Zidane.

Karim Benzema and the France national team
Benzema (6th form right) of Real Madrid with his Ballon d'Or poses with his teammates at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on 22nd October 2022. Photo by Denis Doyle.
Source: Getty Images

After arguably his most productive season at Madrid with 44 goals in 46 matches, the striker beat other Madrid nominees, including Antonio Rudiger and Luka Modric, and previous winners like Cristiano Ronaldo. The striker is the second-oldest award winner after Stanley Matthews, who won at 41 years.

Karim Benzema's court cases

Misdemeanors off the pitch threatened Benzema's career and reputation. His legal troubles began in 2010 when French TV channel M6 reported that Franck Ribéry, Sidney Govou, Hatem Ben Arfa and the striker were being investigated for involvement in underage solicitation in a Paris nightclub. He and Ribéry were acquitted for lack of sufficient evidence that they knew the prostitutes were underage.

Karim Benzema winning the Ballon d'Or
Karim Benzema celebrates scoring their first goal during the UEFA Nations League match between France and Denmark at Stade de France on 3rd June 2022. Photo by Thor Wegner/DeFodi Images.
Source: Getty Images

In 2015, the icon was allegedly involved in blackmailing a fellow Frenchman, Mathieu Valbuena, over an inappropriate video caught on a mobile phone. Noel Le Graet, the FFF president, announced his suspension from the national team on 10th December 2015. Benzema was found guilty in 2021, was given a one-year suspended sentence, and fined $87k.

Despite losing out on his international career for six years, the striker made a come-back in the 2020-21 season, scoring ten goals in sixteen matches. He also won the UEFA Nations League Cup and UEFA Men's Player of the Year and became Les Bleus' fifth all-time top goal-scorer.

Karim Benzema's dating history

The player is reported to have dated several celebrities over his career. His two most notable romances are with his baby mamas. He dated his former girlfriend, Chloe De Launay, for three years before they had their daughter Melia in February 2014. On 5th May 2017, he and his then-wife Cora Gauthier welcomed a son named Ibrahim. Both romances were allegedly hit by controversy and infidelity.

The Frenchman's date to the 2022 Ballon d'Or was his alleged girlfriend, Jordan Ozuna. She is a 32-year-old American model who was a waitress in Las Vegas.

Karim Benzema's net worth

According to, the player's worth is $70 million in 2022, amassed from his career earnings and several lucrative endorsements. His weekly salary is $275,920, with a 25% increase in the last several years. His real estate assets are valued at over $2.7 million, and his luxury cars are worth over $3 million.

Who is the idol of Karim Benzema?

Growing up, the superstar idolized Brazilian striker Ronaldo who also played for Real Madrid during his incredible career. He said that his idol's style of play influenced him, explaining,

"For me he's the best striker and the best player of all-time. I watch videos of him and try to do what he does, but it's impossible to pull the same moves he did."
The Karim Benzema story of winning the Ballon d'Or
Karim Benzema of Real Madrid poses with the trophy of MVP of the month at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on 12th May 2022, in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images.
Source: Getty Images

Karim Benzema's injury

Madrid's top assist provider binds his right hand in every game because of an injury he sustained in January 2019. He suffered a broken pinky finger from the collision with Real Betis defender Marc Bartra.

The Karim Benzema story inspires soccer fans and pundits globally, showing how the talented icon rose to the limelight from humble beginnings. Despite his humble beginnings being overshadowed and legal issues, Benzema has achieved his career goals.

READ ALSO: Who is Karim Benzema's girlfriend, Jordan Ozuna?: Age, career, Instagram published an article on Karim Benzema's girlfriend, Jordan Ozuna. She is an American Instagram model and social media personality. She became more famous after rumours of being the French footballer's girlfriend were sparked online in May 2022.

They were seen together at the Ballon d'Or gala in France. Click on the link above to learn more about her.

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Bertha Wanjiku