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Karim Benzema

In collaboration with Off-White

World Exclusive

Location: Hotel Puerta America, Madrid Photographer: Duncan Elliott Stylist: VOS Paris

In a whirlwind 48 hours, SWM flew to the Spanish capital of Madrid to meet global football and fashion icon Karim Benzema. The beautiful Hotel Puerta América played host to an exclusive collaboration as the team got up close and personal with one of the world’s most revered players…

and this year’s Ballon d’Or winner.

Firstly Karim, welcome to SWM. It’s a pleasure to have you featured on our cover, and thank you so much for inviting us to Madrid.

Thank you very much for your interest. It’s a pleasure to share these great moments with SWM.

Let’s start the interview by asking you about your heritage… Tell us about your life as a young boy growing up in Lyon.

When I was a child I was very close to my family and friends. Always kicking a ball in the street enjoying those unforgettable moments.

You had eight siblings, and your younger brothers also became footballers. Your mother and father must have been very proud.

I have two brothers that play football. I play with them in my free time, and we talk a lot about football. Yes, my parents are very proud of me because I’ve reached a professional career, and they are also very proud of my brothers for their achievements too.

What has been your biggest achievement in life and as a footballer?

There have been too many achievements: my debut with Lyon, my first goal with Lyon, the day I signed with Real Madrid, my first goal with Real, the first Champions League victory… I cannot choose just one success.

How are you preparing for life after football? What would you like to do when your career is finished?

I have not planned it yet. I have always said I would like to stay in football, but I would like to be close to my family in Lyon.

Tell us about the other side of Karim Benzema.

My Instagram profile shows my other side away from football. Videos and photos are the other sides of my life. It’s an important digital tool to approach the followers and shows more of me as a person.

You portray a very cool image for yourself; why do you feel it is important to keep fans engaged and have such a strong media profile?

I think Instagram and social media are cool for showing followers what you are doing off the pitch. What you do while at home, the places you like to go, the clothes you wear and your lifestyle… it also helps me stay in touch with the fans.

We can see you like your cars…

Yes! [laughs] but I do not have a favourite car. I like many of them. For example, the Audi RS6 that I drive everywhere or the Bugatti Chiron – this is not a car; it is a piece of art. 

You signed for Real Madrid in 2009; just how big was that at the time for you and your family?

It was a very important date in my history because it has been my dream for a long time. Obviously, Real Madrid is the biggest club in the world with its titles and history. I remember it was a very special day because my family was very excited too. My dream had finally come true.

“My dream had finally come true”

You have since had a glittering career with Real Madrid, winning La Liga and the Champions League many times. What advice would you give to other players who want to reach the heights that you have as a footballer? 

The advice depends on the age of the player. First of all, enjoy life, then enjoy football. If you like other things, enjoy them, of course. The key is always having a dream in mind. For example, it’s quite difficult if you’re 7, 8 or 9 years old and hope to become a professional. In my case, I did not plan to play professionally until I was 14 or 15 years old. Later, when this becomes possible, you have to focus on working and training every day to achieve great things.

Tell us about your journey throughout your career so far; who has been your biggest influence?

My father first because he saw all my matches. Also, when I was 16 years old, I had a coach in Lyon called Armand Garrido; he helped me change my mind and become more self-confident. He was decisive in my progress as a young player. 

You inspire a lot of people around the world, but who inspires you the most?

I have no doubts: my parents are my role models. They always inspire me; they made me the person I have become today with their values.

What music do you listen to?

Funky, US Rap, French Rap, reggae…

What artists do you like?

I follow really good artists. Booba is number one in France. Not only Booba but also there are great artists like Lacrim and Alonzo. I also like Tupac and Drake.

What music do you play before a big game?

I love a song from Booba called BB. I really like to listen to that song when I’m focused on a matchday.

What is your standard dress code – what would we usually see you wearing?

It depends on the day, depends on the scene: having lunch with family, a meeting with friends or training… I can easily adapt my style and what I am wearing to different situations.

You love your designer clothing and accessories; tell us what excites you about the fashion industry.

You can live with fashion every day. It’s an amazing way to express yourself.

What are your favourite designer brands and items?

I like many designer brands: Balenciaga, Prada, Gucci, Hermes, Dior, Fendi, Off-White, and Adidas as a sports brand.

Last year, our fashion partner Mr Philipp Plein invited you to his home to collaborate with you… tell us more about that experience.

It was a great experience at his house. We were talking about fashion, which Philipp can explain to you. He is a very good and hard-working guy, and I loved meeting him.

“I realise that SWM are a very professional and easy-going company. They let me choose my looks during the photo shoot, they suggested a lot of cool things and I really enjoyed my time with them. I would like to thank them for everything”

Karim Benzema