Karim Benzema has set his sights on winning Euro 2020 with France after being left “a little shocked” by his recall to the national side.
Real Madrid striker Benzema was last week named in France’s squad for their upcoming European Championship campaign following an absence of nearly six years.
He had been frozen out by Didier Deschamps since 2015 after becoming embroiled in a blackmail scandal involving international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
The 33-year-old has denied the claims and is due to stand trial on the charge of complicity in attempted blackmail in October.
Benzema’s recall comes on the back of a campaign in which he scored 30 goals for Madrid in all competitions, 23 of those in LaLiga – behind only Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (30).
However, the prolific attacker’s return to Les Bleus’ setup came as a surprise, even after holding face-to-face talks with Deschamps prior to the squad being announced.
“It was a special day,” he told L’Equipe. “I received a lot of messages, there were rumours. I was waiting like everyone else, in front of the TV. I was really happy.
“It happened really fast, it was a feeling of joy and pride. I remembered all the moments when I never gave up. It was a little shock, it’s been a long time!”
Benzema accused Deschamps of “bowing to the pressure of a racist part of France” after he lost his place in the side, but the pair quickly buried the hatchet.
“Deschamps didn’t tell me. We talked a lot, it was a long conversation, but he never said to me: ‘You’ll be at the Euros’,” Benzema said.
“The only thing he said was that we’d taken a big step together and that we’d see.
“We were face-to-face. We hadn’t seen each other since 2015. It was good to talk, I’ve always gotten on well with him, after three minutes everything was back to normal.”
Benzema won the most recent of his 81 caps for France against Armenia in October 2015, scoring twice in that 4-0 friendly victory to take his Les Bleus goal tally to 27.
He was absent for France’s World Cup triumph in 2018 and is now eager to make up for lost time by firing his country to success at the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, which begins next month.
“I want to win a trophy with the France team,” he said. “Anyone can say: ‘It’s a dream to win the Euros’.
“But the question is how to win it? And I answer that with the squad that we have, we can win it.”
France begin their Group F campaign with a meeting against Germany in Munich on June 15, before facing Hungary and reigning champions Portugal.
Deschamps can also call upon the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud in attack, the latter of whom Benzema previously fell out with.
Benzema suggested last year that Giroud’s talent pales in comparison to his own, but the Madrid striker insists he has no problems with his international colleague.
“Olivier, I saw him during the Chelsea match. We spoke, it was relaxed. He congratulated me for my goal,” he said.
“It was good vibes, it was cool. I have already played with him, it will be the same as before.”
Send your news stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and via WhatsApp on +233 266777777