Jose Mourinho says Karim Benzema was a ‘bad boy’ at Real Madrid but he ‘loves’ the striker and is delighted he’s back to form sensational France attack with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann

11.06.2021

Jose Mourinho has told talkSPORT of his delight in seeing Karim Benzema go from Real Madrid ‘bad boy’ to legend and back in the France squad.

Benzema joined Madrid in 2009 from Lyon when he was still only 19 – joining at the same time as superstars Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Benzema joined Real Madrid in the same year as Ronaldo and Kaka

Benzema joined Real Madrid in the same year as Ronaldo and Kaka

The France striker’s achievements at the Spanish club have perhaps gone a little under the radar due to what Ronaldo did.

His 279 goals has helped them win four Champions Leagues, three La Ligas and two Copas del Rey.

Mourinho joined talkSPORT Breakfast on Friday morning and spoke about a wide range of topics including Euro 2020, England, Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku and Benzema.

Benzema has played 559 games for Madrid, scoring 279 times

Getty

Benzema has played 559 games for Madrid, scoring 279 times

He said of his time managing the French striker: “Benzema in Madrid was a bad boy.

“He was a kid that arrived in the previous season from Lyon. He was 19 when he went for Madrid and it was too much for him at the time.

“Progressively, he was an amazing player. We speak about Harry (Kane) for example and look to Karim and lots of similar qualities.

“He’s the kind of striker who if he doesn’t score lots of goals, he still plays amazing for the team.  Karim is a fantastic player.”

Benzema has won 18 trophies while at Real Madrid

Getty Images – Getty

Benzema has won 18 trophies while at Real Madrid

When pressed more on what he meant by him being a ‘bad boy’, Mourinho added: “When I say bad boy I say he was a young guy, not married, not with kids and the family life. He’s very stable and mature.

“He thinks about football and thinks about winning and thinks about being a legend with that club, which he already is.

“He’s probably the next captain when Ramos leaves. Karim becomes a Real Madrid icon. What he did when Cristiano Ronaldo leaves, everybody thought now they have a big problem.

“There was no big problem because Karim was there and was taking control of that attacking power for Los Blancos.

“I love him and he knows that and I hope I could give him something in that time we spent together. Three years. I’m pretty sure I gave him something.”

Benzema has made 83 appearances for France, scoring 27 goals

Getty

Benzema has made 83 appearances for France, scoring 27 goals

Benzema was brought back from international exile this year having not played a game for his country since 2015.

He missed out on Euro 2016 and had to watch from the sidelines as they claimed the 2018 World Cup.

Mourinho admitted he was glad to see the striker back representing his country.

He said: “If it works in France, it is to be scared because imagine Karim dropping, getting in between the lines, the quality of his pass and the finishing.

“Then with Griezmann and Mbappe coming from the sides. Oh wow!

France’s front three of Griezmann, Mbappe and Benzema looks deadly for Euro 2020

AFP

France’s front three of Griezmann, Mbappe and Benzema looks deadly for Euro 2020

“Physically he is tremendous now. He takes care with his body. He’s stronger than he was ten years ago.

“His feet are fast. He is tremendous. I’m so happy after this period where he didn’t play for the national team like we know.

“I’m so happy he comes back because he’s an amazing player.”

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