“Karim Benzema decided this year to win the Ballon d’Or”

Mathieu Sparado is directing the documentary “Ballon d’or: a race for eternity” with Team journalist Imanol Corcostegui. We discover in particular how Karim Benzema established himself during the season to win this reward that he had always dreamed of.

After making a documentary on Mylène Farmer, Mathieu Spadaro shot one with the journalist from The Team Imanol Corcostegui, behind the scenes of the Ballon d’Or. “Ballon d’Or 2022, a race for eternity”, narrated by former international player Didier Drogba, will be broadcast Monday October 23 on the L’Équipe channel at 9:15 p.m. and is already available on the L’Équipe explore platform. Until Karim Benzema in 2022, only four French people had won the trophy since its creation in 1956: Raymond Kopa (1958), Michel Platini (1983, 1984, 1985), Jean-Pierre Papin (1991) and Zinédine Zidane (1998) This film takes us into the mechanics of this annual event long awaited by millions of supporters around the world and which represents the Holy Grail for a professional football player.

franceinfo: Currently, we are talking a lot about Karim Benzema after his tweet and the declarations of Gérald Darmanin, but he is in the spotlight in your documentary which mainly tells behind the scenes of his consecration as Ballon d’Or in 2022, at the age 34 years old. We see that he has a great mentality since he confides that he did not want to stop playing football without having obtained the Ballon d’Or and showing that he could do like Zidane or Ronaldo.

Matthew Spadaro: It’s true that this determination, that year, I believe he had decided that he would go get it. And this moment shared at home discussing this season which he remembers, commenting on each moment as a slightly singular anecdote, was a beautiful moment, it was powerful of course.

What’s impressive is that he tells you: “So there, in this match in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, I wanted to score two goals” and presto, he scores them!

These are anecdotes that are quite strong, especially in a season like this where we ultimately no longer expect anything and that’s the show that makes it quite extraordinary. There are constant twists and turns and when he tells us that on his way to the locker room at half-time he said to his teammates: “Don’t worry, I’ll score them”, that’s of course quite fascinating. .

When did you interview him? He was happy to have received this reward and he gave a lot of effort.

It was a unique moment when we went to see him since it was a few days before the ceremony. Tradition means that France Football needs to cover. So a few days before, the winner is contacted. It’s Pascal Féret, the director of France Football, who calls him. This conversation is recorded. And he can’t jump for joy because he’s in a place where he’s not allowed to say it! It’s a touching moment, special because it’s secret.

The documentary also lifts the veil a little on the selection process. In June, the 30 best football players in the world are selected. By who ? And how does this take place?

There were not 30 players, but there were 30 stickers and 30 names to define the 30 potential best players in the world who were then offered to 100 journalists around the world to choose one. This meeting takes place at the editorial office of France Footballchaired by Pascal Féret, director of France Football at the time, assisted by Didier Drogba, who also narrates this film. There are some obvious choices and others that are a little more difficult. So, they redo the season and it’s a debate that is electric because in fact, it’s very difficult to choose.

There are rumors for the next Ballon d’Or, including one about Lionel Messi having it again. Have all the doors been opened to you? Were you able to approach the jurors?

We didn’t see the 100 jurors, but we decided to choose one, Henry Winter, who represents English football. We went to interview him in his offices at Times in London, he is an enthusiast who also has a very beautiful image when talking about Karim that season, who cites him as a “Golden Comet” across the sky, as he went through the season. And this image is quite beautiful and we tried to portray it with this sort of golden card throughout the documentary.

The documentary is narrated by Didier Drogba and there are plenty of interviews including Lionel Messi. Listening to them, you get the impression that these football players are all strategists. It’s strange because it’s a team game, but everyone understood that they had to stand out to become the Ballon d’Or.

The exclusivity of this documentary was also to hear them talk about this season, talk about their strategy. Usually, it’s specialists who talk about football. There, for the first time, it is those who experience it who tell it and that is what makes this documentary quite unique.

Your previous documentary was on Mylène Farmer. How did you get there? And what interested you in this documentary project?

I had been to a stadium for a Mylène Farmer concert, but I had never seen a football match in real life. And the first match I saw was in the Barnabéu stadium in Madrid. Suddenly I arrived in a stadium on the filled pitch and it was the day when Karim Benzema presented his Ballon d’Or to his club. The entire stadium was filled with gold papers to create a giant tifo. The stadium becomes gold and that day, it was raining and it’s really an image that will stay etched in my head.

Watch this interview on video:

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