Jose Mourinho has told talkSPORT of his delight in seeing Karim Benzema go from Real Madrid ‘bad boy’ to legend and back in the France squad.
Benzema joined Madrid in 2009 from Lyon when he was still only 19 – joining at the same time as superstars Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The France striker’s achievements at the Spanish club have perhaps gone a little under the radar due to what Ronaldo did.
His 279 goals has helped them win four Champions Leagues, three La Ligas and two Copas del Rey.
Mourinho joined talkSPORT Breakfast on Friday morning and spoke about a wide range of topics including Euro 2020, England, Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku and Benzema.
He said of his time managing the French striker: “Benzema in Madrid was a bad boy.
“He was a kid that arrived in the previous season from Lyon. He was 19 when he went for Madrid and it was too much for him at the time.
“Progressively, he was an amazing player. We speak about Harry (Kane) for example and look to Karim and lots of similar qualities.
“He’s the kind of striker who if he doesn’t score lots of goals, he still plays amazing for the team. Karim is a fantastic player.”
When pressed more on what he meant by him being a ‘bad boy’, Mourinho added: “When I say bad boy I say he was a young guy, not married, not with kids and the family life. He’s very stable and mature.
“He thinks about football and thinks about winning and thinks about being a legend with that club, which he already is.
“He’s probably the next captain when Ramos leaves. Karim becomes a Real Madrid icon. What he did when Cristiano Ronaldo leaves, everybody thought now they have a big problem.
“There was no big problem because Karim was there and was taking control of that attacking power for Los Blancos.
“I love him and he knows that and I hope I could give him something in that time we spent together. Three years. I’m pretty sure I gave him something.”
Benzema was brought back from international exile this year having not played a game for his country since 2015.
He missed out on Euro 2016 and had to watch from the sidelines as they claimed the 2018 World Cup.
Mourinho admitted he was glad to see the striker back representing his country.
He said: “If it works in France, it is to be scared because imagine Karim dropping, getting in between the lines, the quality of his pass and the finishing.
“Then with Griezmann and Mbappe coming from the sides. Oh wow!
“Physically he is tremendous now. He takes care with his body. He’s stronger than he was ten years ago.
“His feet are fast. He is tremendous. I’m so happy after this period where he didn’t play for the national team like we know.
“I’m so happy he comes back because he’s an amazing player.”
talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 will have live commentary of EVERY game of Euro 2020. You won’t miss a thing as we bring you round the clock coverage, reaction and analysis from June 11-July 11. Listen online HERE.
talkSPORT Selector Big5
talkSPORT Selector is back this summer with a brand new predictions game – Big5.
Fancy a shot at winning a share of ten thousand pounds? Turn your predictions into cash with one in four entries guaranteed to win!
Entries cost £3 and the first game closes at 1:45pm on Saturday, June 12.
Go to talkSPORT.com/selector NOW!
18+. Ts&Cs apply. Please gamble responsibly. Begambleaware.org/