Luka Modric won the 2018 Ballon d’or after a great season indeed. The 33-year-old became the first Croatian to claim the award.
The Real Madrid star won the UEFA Champions league with los blancos as he also reached the World Cup final with the Croatian national team (as they lost to France).
Indeed, Modric has become the first player to break Messi and Ronaldo’s duopoly of the award since 2007, with Brazil icon Kaka being the last to lift the trophy before the Argentine and Portuguese stars collected five each across the following years.
“It’s a unique feeling,” he said as he accepted the award. “I’m happy, proud and it’s an honor. Extraordinary emotions at the moment.
“I just want to thank all those who helped me to be here tonight. I thank my teammates, my coaches, the staff and Real Madrid, all those who work there, the coaches and teammates in the national team, the ones who voted for me and my family, who allow me to blossom as a person.
“Always have dreams, I wanted to play in a big club, win titles, the Ballon d’Or is all I could dream as a child, it’s an honor to win it tonight.
“It’s a great pleasure to be here around his players. I keep thinking I’m trying to get used to being part of this group of exceptional players who have won the Ballon d’Or previously. It’s a great pleasure to be part of this group. It’s hard to say, throughout my career I understood that work, persistence, believing in yourself, is the basis for expressing your talent. I like the phrase: the best is never easy. For me, it was not easy. It was necessary to seize the opportunities.”
The midfielder believes changing his role in midfield has been a turning point in his career, saying it all came together while he was at Tottenham.
“Changing position allowed me to develop my game, before I was more an offensive player. When I retreated, I had a better vision of the game, I could better express my creativity, my game. In my second year in Tottenham, I played midfielder and I felt better in the middle.”
Modric finished ahead of his former Madrid team-mate Ronaldo in the vote, making the Portuguese icon settle for second place for the first time in three years.
France star Griezmann took third place in the poll, with fellow World Cup winner Mbappe was close behind. Messi, meanwhile, dropped outside the top two for the first time in 11 years and came in fifth this time.