ZINEDINE ZIDANE was beaming like a Cheshire cat as he awarded fellow countryman Karim Benzema the Ballon d’Or.
Juventus and Real Madrid legend Zidane, 50, was the last Frenchman to win the coveted prize when he collected the gong back in 1998.
But Benzema ended that 24-year wait on Monday as he beat Sadio Mane and Kevin de Bruyne to the accolade.
Zidane presented the Real striker with the trophy – which Benzema claimed after leading the Spanish giants to LaLiga and Champions League glory last season.
And the former Los Blancos boss, who coached Benzema for a total for five years, could not contain his joy at seeing his ex-player receive the honour.
He was seen wearing a huge smile as the 34-year-old came up to claim the award.
And he then continued to show just how jubilant he was backstage after the ceremony as a clip emerged of Zidane embracing Benzema once more.
Reacting on social media, one person said: “Look at how happy Zinedine Zidane is for him. What a beautiful moment. ❤️”
While another added: “Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Zidane and Benzema, legends.”
A third said: “Zidane tried so hard to hold back the excitement after seeing Benzema’s name 😂❤.”
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And a fourth added: “When the entire world criticised Zidane for playing Benzema during his bad form, he didn’t listen to the media or the fans. He believed in Benzema when no one did.
“Five years later, Benzema wins his first ever Ballon d’Or and Zidane handed it over to him like a proud father.”
Benzema credits Zidane and Brazilian Ronaldo as the players he idolised when he was growing up.
He then won three Champions Leagues in a row under the management of Zidane between 2016 and 2018 – although the limelight was often given to Cristiano Ronaldo instead.
But last season Benzema finally received the credit he deserves as he scored 44 goals in 46 games on the way to Real lifting the LaLiga and Champions League trophies.
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