Karim Benzema says he is proud to have matched his hero Ronaldo’s tally of 104 goals for Real Madrid.
Benzema, 26, reached the mark with a well-taken double in Saturday’s 4-2 La Liga win over Villarreal at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. The France international needed 215 games to reach the figure, with Ronaldo, who played for Madrid from 2002-2007, needing just 177.
Benzema told AS that it was “amazing” to now be on the same number of goals as one of the best players of all time.
“I am really happy because to reach a player of his size is simply amazing,” Benzema said. “Ronaldo is, for me, together with Zizou [Zinedine Zidane], the best player in history. I feel very proud to have been able to score the same number of goals, and this makes me work even harder now.”
Benzema says he has taken inspiration from Ronaldo through his whole career, and still studies videos of the former Madrid, Inter Milan and Barcelona forward to gain tips ahead of games.
“He inspired me in many things,” the ex-Lyon player said. “First, the ease with which he scores goals of course. But I also learned a lot from him about movement in front of the opposition goal. I have followed Ronaldo since I was a boy, and before Madrid games I still watch videos of him playing.”
Working day-to-day with his fellow countryman and Madrid’s current assistant coach Zidane was also helping him to improve as a player, Benzema said.
“Zizou is working very well with the whole team, but it is true that he and I have a great understanding in our day-to-day work,” he said. “Zinedine is like my big brother. He speaks with me a lot, he advises me, and makes me do specific work in front of goal. And it works! For example, before the game against Villarreal, Zidane recommended I move a lot to the near post, and that was how I scored my first goal.”
Benzema, who has been hailed by Madrid fans for his recent performances, says he has moved on completely from the period earlier in the season when he was whistled inside the Bernabeu, with supporters and pundits calling for him to be dropped for youngster Alvaro Morata.
“Physically I am better now, but I believe the problem was more of confidence,” he said. “I was able to create many chances but the ball was just not going in… That is all forgotten now. I feel really good about everything I do on the pitch. And I also enjoy giving passes to my teammates. I just hope things continue like this.”