Mourinho spent three years with Benzema at Real Madrid.
AS Roma coach, Jose Mourinho, has hailed Benzema for winning the Ballon d’ Or for the first time in his career. The Frenchman won the prize after leading Real Madrid to La Liga, Champions League, Supercopa de Espana, and UEFA Super Cup successes in 2022.
Mourinho played a pivotal role in Benzema’s career during his time with Real Madrid (2010-2013), and praised the striker’s team spirit.
“Karim is a great person, a team guy. He’s not obsessed with himself, he’s not obsessed with the Ballon d’Or, he’s not a guy obsessed with scoring more goals than A, B or C. He’s just a team guy who does a lot, so the Ballon d’Or becomes a natural consequence. I think he’s a guy obsessed with his team. His Ballon d’Or is the natural consequence of his great development, rather than the result of a personal obsession.’’
The Portuguese tactician also revealed that he was hard on Benzema during their time together because he wanted him to grow fast and reach his full potentials as a player.
“When I was his coach, he was a very talented player, searching for his identity as a player of the highest level, with the right ambitions and the right physical condition. I wanted him to grow as fast as possible and I was hard on him. I corrected him in every little detail, the slightest extra kilo and the slightest minute late in training. I don’t know if I influenced his development, only he knows, but his very strong character allowed him to progress.’’
Mourinho went further to praise Benzema’s improvement and noted that his versatility made him different from other world class players.
“I am very happy for him. For the last four or five years he has been a man, the leader in key moments to make history. He is a phenomenal footballer at the peak of his potential, physically, mentally and tactically…Karimis a versatile player. If there were three Karimsin a big team, they would all play: one would be a striker, the other a leader, the last one would play on the left wing. I am very happy because sometimes the Ballon d’Or only recognizes pure talent. This one crowns both individual talent and a man who has always defended the essence of football: the collective.’’
Benzema is expected to replicate his club form for France in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.