July 03, 2009

Player Profile: Karim Benzema


Karim Benzema (pronounced /bɛnˈziːmə/ or /bɛnˈzeɪmə/, born 19 December 1987 in Lyon), is a French footballer who plays as a striker who plays for Ligue 1 club Olympique Lyonnais and the French national team.

Benzema came through the youth academy at Lyon and has been capped at senior level for France. He played in UEFA Euro 2008 and was the top goalscorer in Ligue 1 for the 2007–08 season, just 3 seasons after making his professional debut. This was also his breakthrough season which saw him earn many awards and a new contract which resulted in him becoming one of the highest-paid footballers in France.

On 1 July 2009, it was announced that Lyon had reached an agreement with Spanish club Real Madrid for the transfer of Benzema. The transfer fee was priced at €35m with the fee rising to as much as €41m based on incentives.[4] He will complete his transfer after taking a medical and signing his six-year contract.

Early life

Born in Lyon to parents of Algerian-Kabyle descent,[5][6][7] Karim grew up with 8 siblings and his father Hafid in the district of Bron.[8] His grandfather, Da Lakehal Benzema, lived in the village of Tighzert, located in the northern town of Beni Djellil in Algeria before migrating to Lyon, where he eventually settled, in the 1950s.[9]


Early career

Benzema is a product of the Olympique Lyonnais Academy. Before joining Lyon, he trained at local Rhône-Alpes club Bron Terraillon SC in the commune Bron, a suburb of Lyon. His performances with Bron's juvenile team caught the attention of Lyon scouts and he joined the academy in 1996 at the age of 9.[10] Benzema quickly ascending up the ranks scoring 38 goals in one season with Lyon's under-16 team[11] and scoring 12 goals in 14 matches with the under-18 team before earning a call up to the senior squad by manager Paul Le Guen.

He made his league debut for Lyon on January 15, 2005, during the 2004–05 season, in a match against Metz coming on as a substitute in the 77th minute. Lyon won the match 2–0 with Benzema providing the assist on the second goal scored by Bryan Bergougnoux.[12] Five days later, he signed his first professional contract agreeing to a three-year deal.[13] Over the next two seasons, his play was limited making a total of 34 appearances and scoring 6 goals, including his first ever against AC Ajaccio in a 3–1 win[14], as well as his first UEFA Champions League goal against Norwegian club Rosenborg in a 2–1 victory.[15]

International career

Benzema has earned caps with all of France's youth teams. In 2004, he was a part of the under-17 squad that won the 2004 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship,[47] their first ever.[48] Before representing France, Benzema was eligible for Algeria and was called up to the squad by the Fédération Algérienne de Football in December 2006[49], but turned them down stating, "Algeria is my parents’ country and it is in my heart, but football-wise I will only play for the French national team."[50]

On 28 March 2007, Benzema won his first cap for France against Austria, scoring the only goal in a 1–0 win for France.[51] His next two goals came in one game against the Faroe Islands, who France subsequently beat 6–0.[52]

He was selected to represent France at Euro 2008. France's Euro 2008 campaign got off to a bad start with a 0–0 draw against Romania[53] and after a muted performance, he was substituted in the second half and played no part in their following game, a 1–4 defeat to the Netherlands.[54] In the last group game, France lost 2-0 to Italy and Benzema featured in the starting lineup.[55]He has now adopted the number ten for France. He scored his last goal for France from the penalty spot against Turkey on 5 June 2009 in a friendly where they won 1–0.[56]


Honours

Club

Flag of France Lyon

International

Flag of France France

Individual

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