The A-match career of French striker Karim Benzema (35, Real Madrid), who won the Ballon d’Or in 2022, stops at 97 games.
Benzema announced his retirement on his 35th birthday, just one day after France lost on penalties to Argentina in the 2022 World Cup final in Qatar. When his French colleagues returned to Paris in despair, he was the first to announce his retirement.
Benzema announced his retirement on social media with a photo of him wearing a French uniform, saying, “Hard work and mistakes made me who I am today. I wrote my story, and our story ends here.”
Benzema made his A-match debut in 2007 안전놀이터 at the age of 20 and scored 37 goals in 97 A-matches for 16 years. He finished the record as fifth all-time scorer in France.
Benzema has long been recognized as one of Europe’s best strikers, but he had no special connection to the World Cup.
He was not selected in the final roster for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after controversy. The World Cup in South Africa was left as a tournament in which France collapsed by itself due to internal conflict and was eliminated from the group stage.
Since then, Benzema has established himself as France’s hope to succeed Zinedine Zidane. He made his World Cup debut at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, scoring three goals and playing his best performance. The team was eliminated in the quarterfinals, losing to champions Germany.
But in 2015, Benzema faced the biggest crisis of his career when he was caught threatening teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex video. Having been away from the national team for over five years, I watched the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which France won in 20 years, from a distance.
Benzema, who returned to the national team last year, had hoped to perform the ‘last dance’ in Qatar, but had to drop out due to a thigh injury suffered just before the tournament. He was rumored to be in good shape to return after the round of 16 tournament, but he never returned. The World Cup in Brazil remains Benzema’s only World Cup. It is in contrast to Messi, who is of the same age, who participated in the 5 World Cups and reaped the beauty of success by winning.
The controversy continued even in the final competition. French coach Didier Deschamps declined to answer questions about Benzema’s return. French media reported that Benzema was not contacted by national team staff. Benzema is said to have been in regular training with his team since early December. He remained in the roster until the end, but he was never seen in the stands.
France showed the potential to reach the finals of two consecutive tournaments without Benzema, but failed to overcome the final hurdle. ‘Next generation emperor’ Kylian Mbappe scored 8 goals and won the Golden Boot, but the team’s runner-up was overshadowed.
Local media in France predicted that the French national team would start a generational change as veterans in their 30s such as Benzema, Olivier Giroud and Hugo Lloris leave one after another.