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By ESPN Staff

Benzema: Mourinho 'like a father'

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has credited Jose Mourinho for his fine form this season.

Benzema, 24, failed to shine in his first season in Spain under Manuel Pellegrini and was not selected by then France manager Raymond Domenech for the 2010 World Cup. After Mourinho's appointment in May 2010, Benzema then re-discovered the form that made him a young star with Ligue 1 side Lyon.

"Mourinho talks to me like a father speaks to his son," Benzema told L'Equipe. "In one of the first training sessions he approached me and said in French: 'How are you?' and then said: '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, I had put on some weight and was disappointed at not going to the World Cup. He told me I must try harder in training. That work has finally paid off."

Benzema admitted he had found the move to the Bernabeu difficult at first and struggled with the expectation.

"When I left Lyon three years ago I was a very young boy and very shy," he said. "I arrived alone, it was the first time I left my home and Lyon. I had to adapt to a new city and a new team. I also had a lot of pressure because I was considered a star and had to prove it now.

"Today I am a player and a more mature person. I am calmer, more serene and physically stronger. I have learned to better control the pressure in big games, I mean 'El Clasico', and Champions League games ".

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