Karim Benzema is the fifth French winner of the seventh national Golden Ball. If his undisputed coronation owes a lot to his personal talent, he is nevertheless in line with his illustrious predecessors: Kopa, Platini, Papin and Zidane.
A bit of prestigious chronology, to begin with! Raymond Kopa won this individual trophy in 1958, Michel Platini won an incredible and unprecedented hat-trick in 1983-1984-1985, Jean-Pierre Papin grabbed it in 1991 and Zinédine Zidane picked it up in 1998. Not bad for France which joins Germany, Argentina, Portugal and the Netherlands in place of nation number 1 with, therefore, 7 golden balls. What is this seventh non-evil crystal ball the name of?
The history of immigration in contemporary France traces an almost unavoidable and continuous perspective of French football. The Golden Balls of Kopaszewski (of Polish origin), of Platini (of Italian origin), of Zidane and of Benzema (both of Algerian and Kabyle origin) have followed the successive migratory waves of our country. If Papin le ch’ti is an exception, all come together in familiar nicknames “home from home” which they are decked out: Kopa or the Napoleon of football, Platoche, Jipépé or Patator, Zizou and now Benz’ or KB9 (rap culture obliges), El Nueva, Benzegol. This chronological perspective of immigration from France suggests that our next Ballon d’Or will follow the last wave of immigration, that of sub-Saharan Africa, which will complete the Black-White-Beur formula, with the Franco-Algerian -Cameroonian Kylian Mbappé, known as “Kyky”, Parisian titi from Bondy. The fact remains that immigrant origin is not an absolute golden rule for footballing success either with regard to the other potential winners who could also have been crowned, such as Just Fontaine, Alain Giresse, Thierry Henry or Franck Ribéry. In 2022, French football can therefore only congratulate itself on having three scorers of different origins and profiles: Giroud, Benzema and Mbappé! The tropism of immigration only confirms that it is still often through sport and the arts (especially music and cinema) that minorities continue to shine in their host societies. But let’s not forget that the beneficial work of integration “à la française” has given a large number of second and subsequent generation immigrants access to the middle classes and the liberal professions.
The coronation of Karim Benzema continues to write the singularity of French football which wins individually (7 Golden Balls) and in the national team (2 World Cups 1998 and 2018, 2 Euros 1984 and 2000, a medal of gold at the 1984 Olympics, 2 Confederations Cups in 2001 and 2003 and a 2021 Nations League), but which hardly exists at club level (unique C1 in 1993 for OM and C2 in 1996 for PSG). Before Euro 1984 crowning the Hidalgo Blues collective, the first international title in French football was the individual distinction of Kopa, Golden Ball in 1958. Proof that France holds its rank among the great football nations in this meaning that they regularly produce exceptional players. And Karim is one like Raymond, Michel, Jean-Pierre and Zinédine were. More than a collective identity, observable in Spain or the Netherlands, French football expresses through its Club of 5 a resolutely offensive, inspired and aesthetic style which is reminiscent, in rugby, of the french flair of the XV of France. Because, apart from JPP, pure number 9 completely devoted to his job as a finisher, Kopa, Platini, Zidane and Benzema excel or have excelled in the double register of scorer-leaders, scorers and creators. Of course, Michel and Karim have a more prolific profile in terms of registered pawns, but the other two also knew how to score important goals.
And Karim created El Nueve
At Karim, author of 50 goals in all competitions last season, the double register of scorer-leader is reinforced even in its paradoxical particularity of not being obsessed only with stats. “If you only think about the goal, it’s because you don’t know how to play football” , he professes. While it is precisely by the stats that football now makes and defeats kings! Karim actually created El Nuevaa kind of hybrid striker who holds a special place in today’s football. A class of his own, as the English say. In addition to his 50 goals, the native of Bron also delivered 16 assists. If we add the penultimate assists and his active or initial participation in the goals scored by others, as well as the penalties he left for friends, his work as a whole defines a real exceptional profile. With a rare intelligence of the game, Karim had revealed in an interview in The Team from last April 5 his personal journey which made him a sort of demiurge of himself, creator of his double, El Nueva : “My main goal was to become a sort of ‘ideal’ striker. (…) So if I have revolutionized the post in my own way, it is my greatest success. » Mission accomplished ! El Nueva (the number nine) also sounds like El Nuevo (the new one): KB9 or the new shade of 9. In addition to his goals, his assists and his two major titles with Real (C1 and Liga) as well as the League of Nations with the Blues, he is in further distinguished by a leadership that one would not have suspected before. With or without an armband (Marcelo was the official captain of Real, Lloris that of the France team), it was he who breathed the spirit of winning into Real and the Blues, by voice and by gesture. , by the attitude and by the crucial goals. El Nueva is therefore perfectly in line with its four illustrious predecessors who also sublimated until the successes the collective in which they blended wonderfully. Karim Benzema is French football that also knows how to imagine, invent… and recreate itself!
By Cherif Ghemmour