Why is Karim Benzema called El Gato?

Why is Benzema Called El Gato?

‘King Karim”, “Ramadan Karim”, “Benzy”, are some of the nicknames of Karim Benzema and then there’s the infamous “EL Gato”.

Karim Benzema has been one of the most complete strikers of this generation, winning the Champions League 5 times with Real Madrid, he has also won the Ballon d’Or earning him a legendary status. 

But then why is Benzema nicknamed El Gato which is the Spanish word for a cat?

Why is Benzema Nicknamed El Gato?

El Gato is a Spanish translation for “the cat.” Benzema got this nickname in 2011 from the then Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho. 

But it wasn’t meant as a compliment at first.

Mourinho was frustrated with Benzema during a press conference. He compared him to a cat as a way of criticizing him in front of the Spanish media. Not the nicest thing to say, but that’s how the nickname was born!

Benzema obviously didn’t mind it though, because “El Gato” just stuck with him over the years. I bet he purrs like a cat whenever someone calls him that now!

Why did Mourinho call Benzema El Gato? 

Got it, here’s how I would rewrite this for a young football fan in simple, conversational language:

Back in 2011, Jose Mourinho was the manager of Real Madrid. During a press conference, he called Benzema “El Gato” which means “The Cat” in Spanish.

Mourinho said some weird stuff comparing Benzema to a cat when he’d rather have a dog for hunting. It was like he was saying Benzema wasn’t performing as well as he wanted.

He stated that “If I can’t hunt with a dog, I will hunt with a cat. With a dog you hunt more, and you hunt better. But if you have not got a dog, and you have got a cat, you hunt with a cat”.

How did Benzema respond to Mourinho? 

Benzema felt Mourinho was putting him down with those comments. He said their relationship went downhill after that. Benzema told the French media that Mourinho’s comments didn’t seem well-intended and it made him laugh at him.

We always had a good relationship, but after that, there were expressions and statements that were not necessarily well intended.

I had the impression that it made him laugh. Even if he’s someone I respect, after a while, I started to lose it,

Benzema got fed up and went to talk to Mourinho about it. He told Mourinho ‘I’m a football player, you’re my manager, I respect you, respect me as a player’

After their talk, Mourinho stopped calling him cat names and their respect for each other improved. But still, some media kept calling Benzema “El Gato” anyway.

Benzema said he’s a shy guy, but he had to speak up because when you say what’s on your mind, things get better.

After the confrontation, the respect between both Benzema and Mourinho increased and they were back on the same page again.

Even today, the media still calls Benzema “El Gato.” They just love giving players fun new nicknames and using them. Like how they call Lionel Messi “La Pulga.”


In an interview, Benzema himself said Mourinho called him “a cat” to motivate him to be more aggressive and angry on the field.

According to reports, one time at training Mourinho made an example out of Benzema in front of everyone. He said something like “If it was up to you, we’d have training at noon because you roll in half-asleep at 10am and then nap again by 11!”

That’s just like how cats love sleeping a lot, right? So the “El Gato” nickname was kind of about Benzema needing to stop being so lazy and sleepy.

Mourinho wanted Benzema to play more fiercely, like a dog, to reach his full potential. And it worked! Benzema really stepped up his game, especially after Mourinho left the club.

Maybe we should thank the “Special One” Mourinho for lighting that fire under Benzema by calling him a lazy cat at first. Sometimes nicknames are weird ways to motivate players!


Who gave the nickname “El Gato” to Karim Benzema?

Benzema got this nickname in 2011 from the then Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho after he refered to the frenchman as “El Gato” in a press conference.

What does El Gato mean?

El Gato is a Spanish translation for “the cat.”

Is Benzema the oldest Ballon d Or winner?

Karim Benzema won the Ballon d’Or at the age of 34 making him the third oldest ballon d’Or winner after Lionel Messi (36) and Standley Matthews (41)

Has Benzema won a World Cup?

Karim Benzema has never won the FIFA World Cup. However, he has won the FIFA Club World Cup 5 times with Real Madrid.


Karim Benzema has been referred to as “EL Gato” ever since Jose Mourinho gave him the nickname in 2011.

Mourinho gave him that cat name because he wanted Benzema to play more aggressively, like a hunting dog instead of a lazy cat.

Even after Mourinho and Benzema talked it out, the “El Gato” nickname stuck around. The media just kept using it.

It was Mourinho’s unusual way to motivate Benzema with an animal nickname about his performances. The name ended up sticking no matter what Benzema did.

What do you think?

Written by TackleFromBehind

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