The 24-year-old did not impress during his first season at the Santiago Bernabeu, but he has explained that everything changed following the arrival of the former Inter boss.Karim Benzema has credited Jose Mourinho with turning his Real Madrid career around, revealing that the Portuguese speaks to him like a father would to his son.
The France international endured a difficult debut season in the Spanish capital following his transfer from Lyon in 2009, but has now firmly established himself in the Blancos starting lineup.
Benzema has explained that the key moment in his Madrid career was the arrival of Mourinho as coach two years ago.
"Mourinho talks to me like a father speaking to his son," the 24-year-old striker told L'Equipe. "In one of the first training sessions, he approached me and said in French 'How are you?' He added: 'I hope to leave behind the Benzema of last year.'
"I noticed that he had affection for me. When he came to Madrid I had a bad back, had picked up some weight and was disappointed at not being able to go to the World Cup. But he told me I must try harder in training. I never neglected this duty, even when I did not play well, and he also made me work hard to improve at press conferences so that I could reveal a bit more of myself. All of that work has finally paid off."
Indeed, Benzema believes that he is changed dramatically since he first set foot in the Santiago Bernabeu three years ago.
"I'm not the Benzema who arrived three years ago, shy and distracted," he explained. "Now I am a mature player, serene, calm and physically stronger. I've grown as a player and personally."
Benzema hit 21 goals during last season's Liga success, and although this figure was dwarfed by Lionel Messi's 50 strikes for Barcelona, Benzema believes it would be unfair to compare their respective tallies.
"First, he plays every minute of every game," he pointed out. "I do not play 90 minutes ever. And then, he has a team [based] around him ...
"But I love Messi, (he) is a great player and I like his game."
Benzema is expected to lead France's attack in this summer's European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.
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