Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is “not afraid” of the media frenzy, bears no grudge with Mathieu Valbuena and intends to represent France at Euro 2016.
The 27-year-old has endured a troubled start to the season, with fitness problems since being overshadowed by his alleged role in the Mathieu Valbuena blackmail plot and subsequent attacks from the French media, which have reportedly left his place in the national team at risk.
“It’s my goal to play in the European Championship with France,” he told TF1.
“It was always my goal to wear this shirt. For the last seven years, I’ve played for Real Madrid as I’ve represented France.
“I have always fought to get here and will continue doing so.
“It’s my desire [to represent France], and France will need both of us [referring to Valbuena]. I have no grudge with him.
“[The media] have tried to destroy my image, but nothing’s happened. I’ll always be the same until the end.
“I have a girl growing up, she talks to me and makes me laugh.
“I also play for a great club. I’m serene and calm. As they say, after the storm, the sun rises.
“There are many things in life to be afraid of, but the Euros are something big and I dream of playing in it.
“I’m not afraid and I hope everything is resolved quickly so I can play in this competition.
“I’ve been with the team for a long time and now I want to win a trophy with my country.
“I wouldn’t have made 81 appearances for the French team if I wasn’t comfortable with them.
“I talk a lot with [France Coach Didier Deschamps]. He is with me and supports me.
“I also have the love of my family, former internationals and current members of the [national] team.
“[On a politician claiming he deliberately spat after the Marseillaise was played before the Clasico], it’s unfortunate and it sucks that such a story has been invented.
“During the anthem, I was concentrating, thinking about the victims and their families, plus mine, and football.
“I’m honest and I spat at the end [of the opening exchanges] as I’d done in every game, like all players do.
“At no time did I think about spitting on the Marseillaise or something along those lines.
“It’s lamentable that people make me out to be someone who doesn’t respect my country or the dead. It hurt me.
“I’m focused and proud to be with the France team. I’m French, I’ve always respected the rules and I won’t change.”