Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema has been named 2021/22 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year.
The 34-year-old, who led the club to a record-extending 14th Champions League title last season and helped France to UEFA Nations League success, held off competition from club-mate Thibaut Courtois and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
“I’m really happy,” he said as he collected his award. “It’s the first time I’ve won this trophy but for me the most important thing is to win trophies with the team. Mr Ancelotti is the best coach in the world; he gets it right with every player, he gives us confidence and he tells you what to do before every match.”
The award was announced during the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League group stage draw in Istanbul.
His coach, Ancelotti also became the first manager to win Europe’s most prestigious club trophy four times. He first won the title with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007 before claiming it with Real in 2014.
When asked how he had become the most successful coach in the competition, Ancelotti said: ‘The passion I have for the sport and the quality of the players.
‘Last season there was a fantastic connection between the veterans and young ones, there was fantastic chemistry with the supporters that helped us reach an unbelievable achievement.’
On Benzema, Ancelotti said: ‘Karim is not just a fantastic striker and top scorer, he’s a fantastic footballer, supported by great attitude day by day.
‘Compared to last year, this year he improved his knowledge, he knows the game really well, how to manage the game and he’s a strong leader in the dressing room and a good friend of mine. We are lucky to have Karim.’