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Karim Benzema and Alexia Putellas are crowned 2022 Ballon d'Or winners

Football
 Karim Benzema is officially the Ballon d'Or winner for 2022 [Twitter]

Karim Benzema on Monday evening won the men's Ballon d'Or for the first time after a brilliant season with Real Madrid capped by the Champions League and Spanish league titles.

Benzema, who led Madrid to the Champions League and La Liga titles last season, is the ffifth Frenchman to win it after Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini, Jean-Pierre Papin and Zinedine Zidane, who was crowned in 1998, the year France won its first World Cup.

Spanish player Alexia Putellas won the women's trophy for the second straight year following another standout season with Barcelona.

 Barcelona's Alexia Putellas celebrates after winning the women's Ballon d'Or during the 66th Ballon d'Or ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France, Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Benzema won ahead of Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne.

After receiving the award, Benzema said, "This makes me really proud, all the work I did, I never gave up".

"I had two role models in my life, Zidane and Ronaldo as well. I always had this dream in my mind that everything's possible. There was a difficult period where I wasn't in the French team but I worked hard and never gave up, kept my head down and enjoyed playing football."

"I'm really proud of my journey here, it wasn't easy, it was difficult, for me and my family. To be here today, the first time for me. I am just really, really happy, thanks to my teammates, with Real Madrid and the national team", he further added.

The 34 year-old, who was named UEFA Player of the Year in August this year, scored 44 goals in 46 matches, including 15 in Europe's top competition, and equaled Raul Gonzalez as the club's second-highest scorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

Benzema was not part of the France squad that triumphed at the 2018 World Cup in Russia but, barring an injury, will compete at the tournament in Qatar next month.

In other awards, the Kopa Trophy for the best under-21 player went to 18-year-old Barcelona midfielder Gavi, while Robert Lewandowski won the Gerd Muller award for the best striker of the year.

The Lev Yashin award for best goalkeeper went to Real Madrid's Thibaut Courtois.

Ballon d'Or organizers added a humanitarian prize named after the late Brazil midfielder Socrates. The trophy went to Liverpool's Sadio Mane for his charity work in Senegal including building a hospital and school donations.

Last year's Ballon d'Or Lionel Messi was not nominated this time after a disappointing debut season with PSG.

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo finished a poor 20th, along with Tottenham's Harry Kane [21st].

Men's Ballon d'Or Standings-

1. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

2. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

3. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

4. Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona/Bayern Munich)

5. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

6. Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

7. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)

8. Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)

9. Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

10. Erling Haaland (Manchester City/Borussia Dortmund)

11. Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

12. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)

13. Sebastien Haller (Ajax Amsterdam / Borussia Dortmund)

14. Rafael Leao (AC Milan)

14. Fabinho (Liverpool)

16. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

17. Casemiro (Real Madrid/Manchester United)

17. Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina/Juventus Turin)

17. Luis Diaz (Porto/Liverpool)

20. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Manchester United)

21. Harry Kane (Tottenham )

22. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

22. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

22. Phil Foden (Manchester City)

25. Darwin Nunez (Benfica/Liverpool)

25. Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)

25. Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

25. Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea/Real Madrid)

25. Mike Maignan (AC Milan)

25. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)Here's full list of all winners during the awards ceremony:

Kopa Award

Gavi (Barcelona)

Women's Ballon d'Or Award

Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)

Gerd Muller Award

Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona)

Yashin Trophy

Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)

Club of the Year Award

Manchester City

Socrates Award

Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

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