The Croatian becomes the 63rd footballer to win the trophy.
Luka Modric completed a trifecta of prestigious football awards after he was awarded the Ballon d’Or award for being the best footballer of the year. The Croatian piped former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo to the award, ending the Ronaldo-Messi dominance with the award for the past decade.
Modric played a huge part in Real Madrid’s success in the Champions League, where he played a pivotal role in their knockout games. Modric gave terrific performances against Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and later in the final where he overwhelmed Liverpool’s midfield. However, he would go onto top that with a stunning showing for Croatia in the World Cup.
He led Croatia from the front, playing a big part in their progression into the finals with a couple of terrific goals and assists on the way. Despite coming up short in the final, Modric won the Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament after having an incredible campaign. He allegedly earned almost more than 200 points more than second-placed Cristiano Ronaldo, who did not attend the ceremony.
— la chaine L’Équipe (@lachainelequipe) December 3, 2018
“I’m really proud and honoured to get this award. I’m thankful to everyone who helped me to help me get here tonight. I’d like to thank my team-mates, coaches and to Real Madrid and my national team for helping me. As kids, we all have dreams. My dream was to play for a big club and win trophies. Winning a Ballon d’Or was more than a dream for me. So winning it is a huge thing for me.” Modric said after lifting the trophy.
Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappe became the first ever winner of the Trophee Kopa award for the best young player of the season. Mbappe had a sensational season, winning the Ligue 1 and Coupe de France with PSG before going onto become World Champion with France, even scoring in the final. Norwegian Ada Hegerberg also made history in becoming the first ever Women’s Ballon d’Or winner. The Olympique Lyonnais star won the Women’s UEFA Champions League with the French side and in her winner’s speech, she encouraged more girls to take up football.
— #ballondor (@francefootball) December 3, 2018
In third place was French star Antoine Griezmann, France’s top goal-scorer during their successful World Cup campaign. Kylian Mbappe, after winning the Best Young Player award, finished fourth. However, the real surprise came with Lionel Messi making the fifth spot in the pecking order.
Despite playing a huge role in Barcelona’s La Liga success last season, Messi could only make #5. A reason for Messi’s shockingly low position could be Argentina’s failure to impress at the FIFA World Cup, in which the Barcelona star only scored a single goal. Mohamed Salah also surprisingly couldn’t even make the top five after his 40+ goal debut season helped Liverpool soar high and reach the finals of the Champions League.
The Egyptian could only make the #6 position, despite having a much better club-level season than the likes of Griezmann and Mbappe. French defender Raphael Varane was the only defender in the top 10, placing in at #7 after having stellar club and international level campaigns in the last year. Premier League stars Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Harry Kane rounded up the rest of the top 10.