Former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has revealed the similarities between his career path and that of Karim Benzema after the Los Blancos attacker claimed the Balon d’Or award on Monday.
Zidane praised his former player at Real Madrid and he never held back to share the discussion during their time at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“I’m almost an older brother to Karim, that’s what we both like to call each other: little brother and big brother,” Zidane said in an interview with L’Equipe.
“We have more or less the same background. He’s from Lyon, I’m from Marseille… We both grew up in a neighbourhood where it wasn’t all easy for us at the beginning.
“We were simple youngsters from the suburbs who had the dream of becoming professional footballers and we achieved it with a lot of hard work.
“We really have a lot of things in common, even from our origins. Our families come from nearby villages in Algeria, in the small Kabylia. We’ve talked about it several times.”
Zidane looks back to Benzema’s struggles at Real Madrid
Zidane also spoke honestly about Benzema’s bad times at Real Madrid, such as when he first joined and was still a youngster.
“He arrived very young,” Zidane recalled.
“Even when he had problems and people thought he was going to throw in the towel, he said to himself ‘I want to win here and I’m going to be the best’. And he managed to do it.
“Despite the criticism and the enormous pressure at a club like this, he never got discouraged, he’s very strong.
“That’s what I love about him. He never gave up. He let people speak and, today, his record and his stats speak for him.”
“He became a legend at this club, he achieved incredible things and will be remembered by people for a long time,” the Frenchman said.
“I am happy for him because he deserves what he has won. He always had confidence in himself, even when some people were saying ‘Karim, he doesn’t score enough goals to be a No.9’.
“And it wasn’t fair, because when he doesn’t score, he always makes others play well.”
Real Madrid would be back in action against Elche in La Liga on Wednesday at Martínez Valero stadium in the Valencian community.