Karim Benzema and Jose Mourinho
Karim Benzema and Jose Mourinho made up after rocky start to relationship in Madrid Getty

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema admits criticism from former manager Jose Mourinho used to infuriate him but realises it helped him become a better player.

The current Chelsea boss helped halt Barcelona's dominance of Spanish football in addition to winning a Copa del Rey title during his three years at the helm of Los Blancos.

But the Portuguese coach also made a habit of falling out with members of his squad, creating fractured relationships that would eventually contribute to his departure from the Bernabeu in 2013.

Following Mourinho's arrival at the club in 2010, he reportedly singled Benzema out for particularly scathing criticism, something that initially shocked and angered the former Lyon star.

But the France international now looks back on his former manager's words as a motivational tool to help bring the best out of him.

"I have had criticism ever since I signed for Real Madrid," Benzema told Al Jazeera Sport. "I really think it is something that has happened since I came to Real where I cannot make a bad pass or have a bad game.

"At the start, it hurt me, but I am used to it now. It affects my family more. I knew that I was being criticised, that Mourinho criticised me, but it was his way of making me react.

"Actually, after that, I became mad. I worked as much as I could. Now, I come in before everyone else, I have treatment, I go to the gym, and I am the last to leave after training."

While Mourinho prevented Barcelona from winning four back-to-back Spanish crowns with his title success in the 2011-12 season – Real's only title triumph in seven years – he left the club with a divided dressing room, as noted by his replacement Carlo Ancelotti.

While the Portuguese enjoyed good relationships with Alvaro Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso and Rafael Varane, he was involved in public spats with Real Madrid stalwarts Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos before leaving the club to return to Stamford Bridge.