The captain of Croatia's national football team, Luka Modric, was named best European player by UEFA at a ceremony in Monte Carlo on Thursday.
This was Modric's second big individual recognition this summer, having been named best player at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, where Croatia were runners-up, losing the final match to France.
Modric, whose club is Real Madrid, was named UEFA Men's Player of the Year for 2017-18 ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Real Madrid) of Portugal, and Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) of Egypt.
"This is beautiful, an incredible dream come true. I play for the best club in the world and win trophies. I'm captain of Croatia's national team, which I'm especially proud of. Recently we achieved incredible success at the World Cup. I'm proud of everything I've done, I just need to keep it up," said Modric.
Modric was also named UEFA Champions League Midfielder of the Season, ahead of Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) of Belgium and Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) of Germany. Modric's Croatia teammate, Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), placed 7th.
"Real Madrid's achievements are surreal. This team has a winning mentality, unity, and quality, but none of these things would matter if we weren't a real family. This season will be even tougher, because everyone will want to de-throne us," Modric said about his club's ambitions in this year's Champions League, having won three titles in a row in the world's most prestigious club football competition.
The UEFA European Player of the Year award was inaugurated in 2011. Previous winners include Leo Messi (in 2011 and 2015), Andres Iniesta (2012), Franck Ribery (2013), and Cristiano Ronaldo (2014, 2016, and 2017).