Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric won Ballon d’Or 2018 in Paris on Monday. In the process, he broke the decade-long duopoly over the award held by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The last player to win the award outside of Ronaldo and Messi was Brazilian great Kaka in 2007.
With Barcelona forward and five-time champion Messi not even in the top three, the Real Madrid midfielder Modric overtook former teammate Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann to win the award for the first time. Messi netted 49 goals for club and country, leading his side to win the La Liga title but a poor World Cup show with Argentina deprived him of the prestigious award this year.
“As a kid we all have dreams. My dream was to play for a big club and win important trophies,” Modric said. “The Ballon d’Or was more than just a dream for me and it is really an honor and a privilege to hold this trophy. 2018 is a dream year for me. Throughout my career I realized hard work, persistence and belief in yourself in difficult moments are the foundations of success.”
Modric won the Champions League with Real Madrid for the third successive year and was a mainstay in midfield for the Croatian team that reached the final of the World Cup this year in Russia. The 33-year old Croatian was awarded the FIFA’s World Cup 2018 MVP, UEFA’s Player of the Year 2018, Best FIFA Footballer of the Year and the number one player by International Federation of Football History and Statistics.