France striker Karim Benzema won the Ballon d'Or at a ceremony in Paris on Monday, the reward coming after his stunning performances helped Real Madrid win the Champions League and La Liga last season.
Benzema, who is the first French winner of the most prestigious individual prize in football since Zinedine Zidane in 1998, scored 44 goals in 46 games for his club including 15 in the Champions League.
Spain’s Alexia Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or for the second year running on Monday, the reward coming after a season in which she was the top scorer as her club Barcelona reached the Champions League final.
The 28-year-old Putellas saw off stiff competition, notably from three stars of the England team that won the European Championship, to take the award following a campaign which also saw Barcelona win a domestic league and cup double.
The prize, awarded at a star-studded ceremony at the Chatelet Theatre in central Paris, is a consolation for Putellas who is currently recovering from a serious knee injury.
The injury saw her miss the Euro in England in July and means she is unlikely to play at all this season.
“It makes me even more annoyed to be injured, but I am very happy to be here,” Putellas said.
“To retain the trophy is much harder. When I injured my knee I thought my chances of winning it had gone but in the end the jury based their decision on the whole of last season, of which I only missed one month.”
Putellas scored 11 goals in the Champions League last season as holders Barcelona reached the final but lost to Lyon.
It is just the fourth time that a women’s Ballon d’Or has been awarded, with Norway’s Ada Hegerberg winning the inaugural prize in 2018 before United States superstar Megan Rapinoe succeeded her in 2019.
Robert Lewandowski received the award for last season’s top goalscorer, renamed the Gerd Mueller Trophy, for the second straight year at the Ballon d’Or ceremony on Monday.
The 34-year-old, who joined Barcelona from Bayern Munich in the close season, scored 57 goals in 56 matches for club and country last term.
He was the top-scorer in the Bundesliga with 35 goals.
Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid won the 2022 Yachine Award and FC Barcelona’s Gavi won the Kopa Award. The Club of the Year Award was bagged by Manchester City
(With inputs from AFP)