Luka Modric has finally broken the stranglehold Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo had on the Ballon d'Or, becoming the first Croatian to win the coveted prize on December 3. Modric, 33, who led Croatia to the FIFA World Cup final in Russia earlier this year, acknowledged the greatness of his two illustrious contemporaries while dedicating his award to all the players who deserved to win it but missed out because of the larger-than-life achievements of Ronaldo and Messi in the last decade.
Real Madrid midfielder Modric ended the 10-year domination of Messi and Ronaldo,who had split the Ballon D’Or between themselves — a 5-5 scoreline, so to speak.
"These two [Ronaldo and Messi] were on some exceptional level for the last 10 years," Modric said after receiving the award, adding that the moment is a “victory for football”.
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He elaborated: “Maybe in the past there are some players that could win the Ballon d'Or, like Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta or [Wesley] Sneijder, but it didn't happen. People are finally, I don't know, they wanted something else. I think it's [a] victory for football tonight.
“I am happy that I am the winner but this award is for all these players that probably deserved to win but didn't,” added Modric, who was also named as the Best Men's Player this year by FIFA.
Modric, however, said that he would have given up any of the individual accolades he won this year for a chance to lift the World Cup.
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“I said, I think last time when I won The Best, I would change all my individual awards for the World Cup, unfortunately it didn't happen,” Modric said.
"This success we achieved at the World Cup for such a small country like Croatia is something amazing,” he added. “But, like I told you, I would change all of this for a World Cup. It didn't happen, this is a great feeling to win at least this, and very happy for it."
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Meanwhile, Ada Hegerberg of Norway, who helped Lyon to the French title and the Champions League, won the inaugural women’s Ballon D’Or award, pipping Denmark’s Pernille Harder.
Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappe, France’s World Cup-winning star, won the Kopa Trophy, for the best player under the age of 21.
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