The captain of Croatia football team and Real Madrid midfielder, Luka Modric, claimed this year’s Ballon d’Or at a ceremony at the historic Grand Palais in Paris on Monday, ending the 10-year hold on the most prestigious award in football by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
"This is a unique feeling. I am proud and honoured… I want to thank everyone who helped me be here tonight. I thank my team and coaches in Real Madrid, my coach and teammates in the national team, my friends and family,” Modric said after receiving the award.
“As a child I dreamed of playing for a great club, and winning trophies. The Ballon d’Or is all I could dream about,” he added.
This honour is the latest in a series for Modric this year. He was awarded the FIFA World Cup golden ball as best player of the Russia World Cup in July, after leading the Croatia national football team to a historic final. In August, UEFA named Modric best European player of the year in Monte Carlo, and he was also crowned FIFA best footballer of the year in September.
Modric has also won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid this year, for the third time in a row.
The most prestigious individual award in football, the Ballon d'Or has been awarded since 1956 by the sports magazine France Football, to any footballer in the world based on his performance in the previous year. The award is given by sports reporters from all over the world who vote for their top three favourites.
This year, Modric won first place with 753 points, Cristiano Ronaldo came in second, with 476 points, and France’s Antoine Griezmann was third, with 414 points.
Modric, who was also named Croatian footballer of the year six times between 2007 and 2017, is the first player from that country to have won the award.
Since 2008, the Ballon d'Or went to either Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo or Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, who have five wins each. The last winner before their duopoly was Milan's Brazilian midfielder Kaka in 2007.
Neither Ronaldo nor Messi attended the Monday ceremony in Paris.