Karim Benzema has won the prestigious French player of the year award after excelling in various departments for Real Madrid. The striker, who moved from French side Lyon for £ 35 million a few seasons ago, has struggled for form with Real Madrid in the past.

However, the arrival of José Mourinho seems to have sparked a response within the player and he has not looked back since. In fact, he has been able to keep out Gonzalo Higuain regularly out of the side. These achievements have not gone unnoticed, as the French Football Federation has rewarded him with the prestigious French player of the year award.

Karim Benzema has scored an astounding 32 goals from 56 matches in all competitions for Real Madrid in the year 2011. Even though this is nowhere near enough the tally of the likes of Real Madrid’s own Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, the French football Federation has recognised that even competing with Cristiano Ronaldo itself is a major feat. This award has been previously won by the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry. Hence, Karim Benzema has said that this award makes it even more special for him, as his idols have won it before.

“Every year I try and get closer to (winning) the Golden Ball. I want to walk in Zizou’s (Zidane’s) footsteps. When I see the former No. 1’s, the likes of (Zinedine) Zidane, (Thierry) Henry and other great players, it makes me feel proud,” Benzema told France Football. Other players who have been nominated for the award include Manchester City’s Samir Nasri, Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, and Barcelona defender Eric Abidal. Real Madrid President Florentino Perez has admitted that Karim Benzema could become the next Zinedine Zidane at the club. Karim Benzema joined Real Madrid three seasons ago.