BENZEMA THANKS MOURINHO FOR RESURGENCE

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has credited Jose Mourinho for his recent resurgence.

Last Updated: 01/06/12 at 08:28 Post Comment

Karim Benzema: Has a father-son relationship with Mourinho

Karim Benzema: Has a father-son relationship with Mourinho

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has credited his "father-son" relationship with Jose Mourinho as the reason behind his emergence as one of the top forwards in Europe.

The 24-year-old moved to the Spanish giants from Lyon three years ago after a successful start to his career in France led to him making his debut for the national team aged just 19.

However, he failed to shine in his first season at the Bernabeu under Manuel Pellegrini and was not selected by then France coach Raymond Domenech for the 2010 World Cup.

Pellegrini was sacked after just one season to be replaced by former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss Mourinho in May 2010 and it proved to be a turning point for Benzema.

It was not always smooth with Mourinho calling on the player to show a stronger work ethic but such words have had an undoubted effect.

The Frenchman told L'Equipe: "Mourinho talks to me like a father speaks to his son.

"In one of the first training sessions he approached me and said in French: 'How are you?' and then said: 'I hope to leave behind the Benzema of last year'.

"I noticed that he had affection for me. When he came to Madrid I had a bad back, I had put on some weight and was disappointed at not going to the World Cup.

"He told me I must try harder in training. That work has finally paid off."

Benzema admitted he had found the move from Lyon difficult at first and struggled with the expectation.

"When I left Lyon three years ago I was a very young boy and very shy," he said.

"I arrived alone, it was the first time I left my home and Lyon. I had to adapt to a new city and a new team.

"I also had a lot of pressure because I was considered a star and had to prove it now.

"Today I am a player and a more mature person. I am calmer, more serene and physically stronger. I have learned to better control the pressure in big games, I mean 'El Clasico', and Champions League games ".

He has also learned to handle the constant pressure that comes with playing for Real Madrid while describing the fans as "another dimension".

While winning the Ballon d'Or is a personal ambition, Benzema confesses his admiration for Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

He said: "First, he plays every minute of every game. I do not play ninety minutes ever. And then, he has a team around him ... But I love Messi as a great player and I like his game."

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