Real Madrid midfielder, Luka Modric, has ended the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi stranglehold on the Ballon d’Or.
Modric, who led Real to their third consecutive Champions League and reached the World Cup final with Croatia this summer, capped off a memorable 2018 by winning European football’s oldest individual prize in a ceremony on Monday.
“As a kid, we all have dreams. My dream was to play for a big club and win important trophies,” said Modric, who received the award from presenter and former France forward, David Ginola during a ceremony at the Grand Palais in Paris. “The Ballon d’Or was more than just a dream for me and it is really an honour and a privilege to hold this trophy.”
Modric, 33, finished ahead of 2017 winner Ronaldo of Juventus and Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann for the prize, leaving Messi, who was fifth, outside the top three for the first time since 2006. Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe finished fourth to round out the top five. Brazil star Neymar, who helped PSG to a domestic treble last season, finished a distant 12th.
Modric was fifth in Ballon d’Or polling last year.
“2018 is a dream year for me,” Modric said. “Throughout my career, I realised hard work, persistence and belief in yourself in difficult moments are the foundations of success.”
The former Tottenham man is the first Croatian player to ever win the award.
No player other than Ronaldo and Messi had claimed a Ballon d’Or since 2008, with both players winning five apiece over the past decade.
In September, Modric claimed FIFA’s The Best award, also given to the world’s top player, a prize which Messi and Ronaldo had not lost since 2008.
Ballon d’Or top 10 finishers:
1) Luka Modric (Croatia / Real Madrid)
2) Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal / Juventus)
3) Antoine Griezmann (France / Atletico Madrid)
4) Kylian Mbappé (France / PSG)
5) Lionel Messi (Argentina / Barcelona)
6) Mohamed Salah (Egypt / Liverpool)
7) Raphaël Varane (France / Real Madrid)
8) Eden Hazard (Belgium / Chelsea)
9) Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium / Manchester City)
10) Harry Kane (England / Tottenham)