Karim Mostafa Benzema (French pronunciation: ; born 19 December 1987) is a French professional footballer who plays as a striker for Spanish club Real Madrid and the France national team. He has been described as an "immensely talented striker" who is "strong and powerful" and "a potent finisher from inside the box".
Benzema was born in the city of Lyon and began his football career with local club Bron Terraillon. In 1996, he joined Olympique Lyonnais, and subsequently came through the club's youth academy. Benzema made his professional debut in the 2004–05 season and appeared sporadically in his first three seasons as Lyon won three titles in that span. In the 2007–08 season, Benzema became a starter and had a breakthrough year scoring over 30 goals as Lyon won its seventh straight league title. For his performances, he was named the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) Ligue 1 Player of the Year and named to the organization's Team of the Year. Benzema was also the league's top scorer and given the Bravo Award by Italian magazine Guerin Sportivo. After another season at Lyon, in July 2009, Benzema moved to Real Madrid in a transfer fee worth over €35 million ($50 million), and signed a six-year contract. After struggling to establish himself in his debut season with the club, in the ensuing two seasons, Benzema reached prominence, scoring 32 goals en route to helping Real Madrid win the Copa del Rey in 2011 and the 2011–12 edition of La Liga. He has been named French Player of the Year three times for his performances in 2011, 2012 and 2014.