April 14, 2024

Saudi Arabia: Benzema speaks his mind

When Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr at the beginning of the year, he was the first to show the way. But at the time, it seemed more a choice by default. Having become persona non grata with the Red Devils, the Portuguese had found himself without a club after his forced departure from Manchester United, and no major European club seemed ready to welcome him. Karim Benzema foll…

When Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr at the beginning of the year, he was the first to show the way. But at the time, it seemed more a choice by default. Having become persona non grata with the Red Devils, the Portuguese had found himself without a club after his forced departure from Manchester United, and no major European club seemed ready to welcome him. Karim Benzema followed suit in the spring. But this time the situation was totally different.

Awarded the Ballon d’Or a few months earlier, KB9 had been offered a new contract extension by Real Madrid, and several European giants were on the lookout, ready to recruit him. However, the former Lyon man opted instead to move to Saudi Arabia. A choice he once again justified to the Saudi League media. Already, I think that with everything I’ve had and done at Real Madrid, it was time to look elsewhere, he confided. And then Saudi Arabia, long before soccer, I wanted to come here.

And then the soccer project, given that it was a project that was starting to explode all over the place. So I said to myself: ‘I’d like to take part and help build up Saudi soccer too’. That’s why I came here in the first place, he continued, adding: What’s more, it’s a Muslim country and they welcomed me with open arms. I immediately felt this love for me. So that’s why.

When you travel there (to Mecca), you’re in the right. For a Muslim, you’re in the right. It’s the right thing to do, you feel good and pure. It’s exceptional. I hope all Muslims go there one day, because that’s where the truth is, he added, expressing his delight at playing in Saudi Arabia: I’m very, very happy, both on and off the pitch. It’s a country that has opened its arms to me. I feel the love of the people and that’s bound to make me happy e