Real Madrid striker spoke in an interview in L’Equipe about his relationship with Jose Mourinho, his difficult adjustment to Real Madrid, and his improvement and he’s change of character.
“I’m not the Benzema who arrived here three years ago, shy and distracted. Now I am amature player, serene, calm and physically stronger,”
“When I left Lyon three years ago was a very young boy and very shy. I arrived alone, was the first time I left my home and Lyon. I had to adapt to a new city and a new team. I came dragging a groin injury and pushed it. Also had a lot of pressure because I was considered a star already and I had to prove it now.”
“Today I am a more mature player and person. I am calmer, more serene and physically stronger. I have learned to control the pressure better in big games, I mean the Clásicos, or the big League and Champions League games”.
“All thanks to Mourinho’s confidence” “Mourinho talks to me like a father speaks to his son. In one of the first practices he approached me and said in French “How are you? And he added:” I hope to you let the last year Benzema stay behind”
“I noticed that he had affection for me, when he came to Madrid, I had back problems, I had picked up some weight and was disappointed at not being able to go the World Cup. He told me I had to work harder in training. He never abandoned me, not even when I didn’t play well. Made me train hard to improve, he spoke about me in press conferences, but only to make me react and improve. And all that work has finally been paid.”
“To be at Real Madrid you need to be a champion. The pressure is permanent, you play against the best teams and can’t fail. That pressure is daily and always forces you to keeping doing well. In Madrid I work twice as much as I did at Lyon. “
“Winning a Golden Ball is my dream”
“Of course that’s one of my goals. All players must have goals in their heads. But before winning an individual title, I must reach colective titles like the League, the Champions, Copa del Rey, for example. But yes, the golden ball is my dream.”
What do you need to be at Messi’s level?
“To start, he plays every minute of every game. I don’t play ninety minutes ever. And then, he has a team around him … But I love Messi, he’s a great player and I like his game. Besides. to be a Golden Ball winner you also have to shine in top level competitions such as Euro or World Cup. “
On Real Madrid fans
“Madrid is another dimension, people are passionate about football. The stadium is magnificent, and all the fans going with their white shirts. That shirt, pfff… When you’re in the field and you see 90.000 people with that shirt, screaming and cheering… it’s amazing, you’ve to live it to understand it. “
On a Madrid-Barcelona
“You leave the hotel and there are already 5,000 people waiting outside. They have to scort you to board the bus and then when you go to the stadium, there’s people everywhere, and the bus can’t go over 40 kilometers, is madness. Before the game I focus, I think I can make a difference during the game and I look forward to that opportunity. I have played many derbies between Lyon and Saint-Etienne, but it has nothing to do with the Clásicos. “
On first year’s criticism
“It’s Spain, everything is exaggerated. If you fail twice, you are null. If you put two goals, a star. There was some criticism that bothered me, but mostly they did hurt my surroundings. My father, my mother, my friends, my agent… the criticism as the praises are necessary to accept if you want to be above them. “
About the language
“This changed everything. I have been speaking for a year and a half or two. Now I understand all the talk in the locker room, I can relate better with teammates. Before, they talked and laughed and I didn’t even know if they were laughing at me. At first, I was in my corner, now I speak and laugh with everyone and have a good time. “