One By One They Slip Through A Gap In The Steel Fence And Go On To The Artificial Pitch Below
One by one, they slip through a gap in the steel fence and go on to the artificial pitch below.
Here, in the eastern suburbs of Lyon, it is training at SC Bron Terraillon Perle.
Among the Under 9s, one boy wears the colours of [/sport/teampages/real-madrid.html Real Madrid].
Another is sent out for losing concentration. Both are here following in the footsteps of their famous footballing uncle.
This maze of social housing and identi-flats is where the story of Karim Benzema began.
Karim Benzema is approaching goalscoring immortality after 11 years at Real Madrid
In a post-Cristiano Ronaldo age at the Bernabeu, https://wiki.darkwind.org/index.php/How_Writing_A_Biography Benzema has become Los Blancos' focal point
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'We'd be here training, he would train alone in front of the wall,' remembers Frederic Rigolet, who helped coach Benzema and now tutors his nephews.
'One hour, two hours... then after it closed, he would go on to the grass.'
The Benzemas no longer live around the corner, in the house overlooking that browning turf where he passed the days. But many of the family still call this area home.
Benzema returns to see friends and relatives, too.
For more than a decade, though, he has been 500 miles away - writing the latest chapter of this extraordinary life.
To many in France, the 32-year-old is a footballing pariah.
Following a sex-tape scandal he has been exiled from the national team for more than four years, his life a lightning rod for discussions about race, identity and integration.
At Real Madrid, however, Benzema is approaching immortality.
He has created more goals than anyone in the club's history and will soon be among Real's all-time top five scorers.
Benzema has been a footballing pariah in France since a sex-tape scandal emerged in 2015
A sex-tape involving Mathieu Valbuena (right) made its way into the hands of blackmailers
No Frenchman has scored as many Champions League goals and on Wednesday night Benzema hopes to dash Pep Guardiola's European dreams when Real meet Manchester City in the last 16.
In a post-Cristiano Ronaldo age, Benzema has become Los Blancos' focal point.
All while remaining on the fringes back home.
Like many suburban backwaters, much of Bron sits the wrong side of the ringroads which separate French cities from their rough edges.
These areas can be hotbeds of crime and cynicism. They can also breed superstars.
Few footballers have blurred those lines like Benzema. To understand why this 'troubled genius' has caused such tremors on and off the pitch, you need to understand this place.
'When he has a problem, people say it's because he comes from a bad area,' Rigolet says.
He maintains, however, that Bron also provided the ingredients for Benzema to fly: the 'perseverance' to stand out and, more important, the ties that bind. 'His whole family is very close,' Rigolet adds. 'That's helped him to become a good player.'
As their son rose, Benzema's parents moved further out of the city.
'In Bron, everyone knows everyone. There they didn't have that,' Rigolet adds. 'So they came back.'
Here, too, they can escape the noise. Benzema's reputation has been dragged through the mud but in Bron, a culture of silence reigns.
'We must not spoil his image,' Rigolet says.
Frederic Rigolet helped coach Benzema as a youngster and now tutors his nephews
Benzema had a humble start in life - growing up in the eastern suburbs of the city
This maze of social housing and identi-flats is where his story began
During his international exile, he has won 10 trophies, including three Champions League titles
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox sport" data-version="2" id="mol-78856820-57fe-11ea-a479-39d1c3610db2" website case of Karim Benzema: Loved by Real Madrid, loathed by France