2018 has been quite the year for breakout football superstars, but none more so than for Luka Modric. On Monday night, Modric topped off his stellar year by ending the 10-year dominance that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have had over the Ballon d’Or award.
Modric helped Real Madrid to claim their third consecutive Champions League title earlier this year. That achievement, however, was just the beginning. He dominated the World Cup this summer, leading the Croatian national team to the finals and a second-place finish. He bagged the Golden Ball award of the tournament, sealing his status as the best player at the World Cup.
Just a few months later in September, he won the FIFA The Best award, given to the world’s best player. All of these together made him an early favorite for the Ballon d’Or, with many eager to see someone other than Ronaldo or Messi take the award home.
After the award was presented at the ceremony in Paris, Modric said, “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. This award is for all the players who probably deserved to win it and didn’t. It was a really special year for me.”
He continues, “It is difficult to express my emotion and how I feel in words. It is something unique for me.”
Former teammate Ronaldo came in 2nd, with France national team duo Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé claiming the 3rd and 4th places respectively. Messi, shockingly, only came in at 5th place. The internet, as it does so well, has erupted in disputes and arguments over these rankings, most of them echoing disbelief at Messi’s 5th place.
It’s kind of sad how the world has gotten so spoiled by what Lionel Messi does that it’s now not appreciating him enough— Alexandra Jonson (@AlexandraJonson) December 3, 2018
Messi is now only the 5th best player in the world?… WTF😂😂 pic.twitter.com/xBswOrtHD7— Footy Jokes (@Footy_JokesOG) December 3, 2018
Maybe Ronaldo or Messi will claim it back next year, or maybe someone else will win it. Whatever the argument, it’s pretty safe to say that Luka Modric definitely deserved to win the Ballon d’Or this year.
Other awards given during the ceremony include the first ever Kopa Trophy to Kylian Mbappé. The Kopa Trophy is for the best under-21 player and is voted on by former Ballon d’Or winners. At 19 years old, Mbappé’s performance in the World Cup and with Paris Saint-Germain had him as a shoo-in for the award.
The first Women’s Ballon d’Or was also awarded this year to 23-year-old Ada Hegerburg. Hederburg is the Norwegian striker playing for French powerhouse, Lyon. She had a phenomenal 31-goal season in 29 matches and is already a three-time UEFA Champions League winner.