Karim Benzema is a brilliant French striker and one of the best footballers of his generation. He is one of the best strikers to wear Real Madrid’s number 9 jersey.
Benzema has a killer eye for goal and is known for his link-up play with other players on the pitch. He formed strong partnerships with Cristiano Ronaldo, Vinicius Jr., Rodrigo, and Luka Modric during his time at Real Madrid. He became the star figure at Real Madrid after the sale of Ronaldo to Italian Serie A side Juventus.
Benzema is widely celebrated by several Real Madrid fans despite leaving the club in 2023. Benzema is strong on the ball and is a potent finisher in the 18-yard box. The French award contributed immensely to the domestic and international success of his former side, Real Madrid, in club football.
At the national level, Benzema is yet to break into the list of the best French footballers of all time. His career was hit with some scandals, which gave him an infamous reputation, especially in the French football team.
Karim Benzema, popularly known as “Coco” is one of the highest-paid footballers on the planet after joining Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad in June 2023. The deal makes the the second highest-paid soccer player in the world.
This article shares interesting details about Karim Benzema’s life, background, biography, career, wife, family, achievements, assets, salary, and net worth.
|Name||Karim Mostafa Benzema|
|Place of Birth||Lyon, France|
|Date of Birth||December 19, 1987|
|Age||36 Years (2023)|
|Eye Color||Light Brown|
|Hair Color||Dark Brown|
|Height||1.85 m (6′ 1″)|
|Weight||81 kg (180 lbs)|
|Net Worth||$80 Million|
Early Life and Biography
Karim Mostafa Benzema was born on 19th December 1987 in Lyon, France. His parents were French nationals but were from Algeria.
Karim was raised in a Muslim family along with seven other children and they observed Islamic practices and rites such as the Ramadan fasting. He attended a school in the city and excelled in his studies.
Benzema’s football career began at 8 with his hometown club Bron Terraillon SC. During his time with the club, he was nicknamed “Coco” by friends and teammates after netting two goals in an under-10 football match against the Lyon youth academy.
He started getting attention from major clubs in the city after his performance in the under-10 football game. Eventually, he underwent a football trial with Lyon and earned a place in their youth academy.
At the under-16 level, Benzema scored 38 goals in the National des 16 ans, which is France’s domestic football competition for junior players aged 16 and under.
Moreover, he served as a ballboy for the Lyon senior team. His performance in the U-16 tournament won him a place in Lyon’s reserve team and in 2004, he joined the club’s senior squad.
Karim Benzema was part of the French squad that won the maiden edition of the UEFA European U-17 Football Championship in France in 2004. He only scored one goal in the tournament against a Northern Ireland U-17 side, which ended in a 3-1 victory for France.
After France’s victory in the competition, Karim returned to his club, which offered him his first professional contract. He signed a 3-year contract with the club and played in the UEFA Champions League football in the next season. In that season, he scored his first goal in the competition.
Karim Benzema made use of every opportunity he got and proved his potential. His good performances on the field won him more playing time for club and country and soon, he became the lead striker of the team.
As the lead striker, Benzema was a reliable goalscorer. He scored important goals when the team desperately needed them, especially in the UEFA Champions League matches, and contributed to the team with his doubles, hat-tricks, and assists.
In 2008, Karim Benzema signed a new contract with Lyon, making him one of the highest-paid footballers in the country. At the end of the season, he won the league’s top scorer award and was one of the names considered for the 2008 Ballon d’Or.
He became the most valuable asset for Lyon, who placed a €100 million on him. Obviously, big football clubs were beginning to show interest in Karim Benzema. In 2009, Lyon accepted a €35 million offer (plus €41 million in incentives) from Spanish side Real Madrid for Karim Benzema.
Before joining Real Madrid, Benzema had scored 66 goals in 148 games across all competitions. Benzema signed a 6-year contract with the club and made his La Liga debut as a substitute, which received several criticisms from the Spanish press.
Karim scored a crucial goal in one of Real Madrid’s matches and soon gained the trust of the coach. However, he fell out of favor again with the appointment of Jose Mourinho as Real Madrid’s manager in 2010.
Mourinho openly expressed his criticism of Benzema by stating that he doesn’t think the French international can lead the Real Madrid attack.
Injuries in the team allowed Benzema to get back into the starting lineup and he capitalized on the opportunities given to him as he scored a hat-trick in a Champions League match and netted another three goals against Spanish side Levante in the Copa del Rey tournament.
During this period, Benzema formed a strong partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo and they got to understand each other on the field. His stellar performances won him trust and praise from the then Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho.
Benzema worked on himself and went to an Italian facility to lose weight. The decision to lose weight paid off as he lost 18 pounds; he also gained muscle mass during the 2011 summer, ahead of the new season. It had a positive effect on him as a striker as he bagged eight goals in seven matches.
The 2011-12 season marked his peak as a striker as he surpassed Zinedine Zidane‘s record to become La Liga’s top French goalscorer. That season was one of Benzema’s best seasons in Real Madrid as he scored 32 goals in all competitions.
He also won the French Football Player of the Year award in 2011, making him the second Real Madrid player and the 2nd French player playing in the Spanish football division to do so. What’s more remarkable is that he won the award three times, surpassing the exploits of Zidane, who won it twice.
In the 2013-14 season, Benzema was part of a powerful attacking front three that included Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. Together, all three scored 97 goals in that season. In the successive season, Karim Benzema committed his long-term future to Real Madrid by signing a new five-year deal at the club.
He maintained his brilliant form for the club in the next seasons and became one of the key players for the team after Ronaldo’s exit.
Karim Benzema binds his right hand in every football game he plays because of an injury he sustained after a collision with Real Betis defender Marc Bartra in January 2019.
In 2020, he signed a new contract with Real Madrid that will keep him at the Santiago Bernabeu until 2022. He scored his 250th goal for Real Madrid in 2020, earning him a legendary status at the club.
In 2023, Karim Benzema made the decision to leave Real Madrid for Al-Ittihad, a Saudi Arabian Super League side. Benzema won several trophies during his time with the Los Blancos, winning every trophy available, including the La Liga, Copa Dey Rey, Kings Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and the Champions League trophy.
Away from club football, Benzema made his first appearance for the French senior team at the Euro 2008. He also made the French squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the Euro 2012.
Following his excellent 2011-12 season with Real Madrid, he won a place on the French side during the 2014 World Cup. However, controversies and scandals around his career saw him ousted from the national team, as he was ignored in both the Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.
In 2019, Karim Benzema expressed his frustration from being left out of the French national team and hinted at playing for a different country, such as Algeria, in the future.
Karim Benzema Salary
In the summer of 2023, Karim Benzema accepted a mouthwatering offer from Al-Ittihad, making him the wealthiest soccer player in the world, after Cristiano Ronaldo. The deal will keep him at the club until 2025, with an option of an extra year.
Benzema will receive €100 million every season, with an additional €20 million bonus as an ambassador for the 2030 World Cup, which Saudi Arabia is bidding to host.
Potentially, Benzema’s contract at Al-Ittihad will see him earn nothing less than 220 million euros and could reach 320 million euros.
Controversies and Legal Issues
Karim Benzema’s international football career hasn’t been the best. His career has been marred by various scandals and controversies in his home nation, Algeria, and France. In 2006, Benzema pledged allegiance to Algeria by admitting to play for the Algerian national football team.
However, we chose France instead because he felt the team had better quality, which would boost his chance of succeeding as a footballer. This decision didn’t go well with some fans in the two countries.
Karim Benzema was also criticized for not signing the French national anthem before football games and sometimes, appearing reluctant to sing it.
In 2010, the French authorities launched an investigation into four members of the senior national team, including Karim Benzema. It was alleged that Benzema and three other members of the team had acted as clients in a prostitution ring.
To make things worse, Karim Benzema was accused of paying for the services of a 16-year-old girl. Consequently, he was charged with solicitation of a minor prostitute but the charges were dropped in 2014 due to a lack of substantial evidence.
In 2015, Benzema was arrested by the French police in what would be the biggest scandal of his career. His French teammate Mathieu Valbuena accused him of blackmail.
It was alleged that Benzema approached Valbuena with a s*x tape, putting him in a compromising situation. It was widely believed that Benzema had tried to blackmail his Valbuena to win a place in the French starting 11 since they were both strikers on the team.
Later, the French Football Association suspended Karim Benzema but the blackmail indictment was eventually invalidated by French courts. However, the incident marred his international football career to this day, making him miss out on some of the biggest tournaments such as the Euros and the World Cup.
Karim Benzema is married to Cora Gauthier and they have two kids together. Cora’s popularity skyrocketed after it was rumored she was dating the French star.
The couple began dating in 2015 after meeting in Dubai. Cora relocated to Madrid to live with Benzema during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Karim and Cora got married in 2016 and welcomed their first child in 2017. Cora Gauthier is a model and internet personality who has a sizeable following on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
Cora Gauthier started her career working for swimsuit and clothing companies but now works as a model. She has modeled for brands such as Dior and Zara.
As of 2023, Benzema began dating Jordan Ozuna, an American model.
Karim Benzema Net Worth
Karim Benzema’s net worth is $80 million. The French forward makes a large portion of his wealth from football. His deal at Al-Ittihad is one of the most lucrative deals in football, as it will see him earn a hefty salary every season.
Karim Benzema is a Real Madrid legend and his legacy will be remembered and respected in the club forever. Karim owns luxury designer homes in France, India, and Spain. Collectively, his real estate property portfolio is valued at around $2.7 million USD.
Benzema is a fashionista and a lover of luxury cars. He owns vehicles from big brands like Ferrari, Mercedes Benz, Bugatti, and Range Rover.