Modric ends 10-year Messi, Ron­aldo grip on Ballon d’Or

The Phnom Penh Post - - SPORT - Andy Scott

LUKA Modric saw off com­pe­ti­tion from a host of French World Cup stars as the Real Madrid and Croa­tia mid­fielder won the 2018 Ballon d’Or on Mon­day, end­ing the 10-year stran­gle­hold on the award by Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and Lionel Messi.

Modric, 33, was an­nounced as the win­ner of the pres­ti­gious prize in a glitzy cer­e­mony held in Paris. Ron­aldo was sec­ond, with France and Atletico Madrid striker An­toine Griez­mann com­plet­ing the podium.

Paris Saint-Ger­main’s teenage for­ward Kylian Mbappe came fourth, leav­ing Messi to set­tle for fifth po­si­tion. Another French­man, Modric’s Madrid team­mate Raphael Varane, was sev­enth, just be­hind Liver­pool’s Egyp­tian for­ward Mo­hamed Salah.

“As a kid we all have dreams. My dream was to play for a big club and win im­por­tant tro­phies,” 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.”

Mbappe, who does not turn 20 un­til later this month, picked up the con­so­la­tion prize of the Kopa Tro­phy for the best young player.

The gala cer­e­mony also saw a women’s Ballon d’Or named for the first time, with Lyon’s pro­lific Nor­we­gian striker Ada Hegerberg tak­ing that award.

Modric – the old­est win­ner since Ita ly’s Fabio Can­navaro, a lso 33, in 2006 – was crowned af­ter an out­stand­ing year i n which he starred in t he Real side t hat re­tained t he Cham­pi­ons League be­fore hero­ica lly help­ing drag his countr y to the fi­nal of the World Cup for the first time in t heir his­tor y.

Croa­tia lost 4-2 to France in Moscow in the fi­nal in July.

The prize comes af­ter Modric claimed the Golden Ball for the best player at the World Cup be­fore pick­ing up Uefa’s prize for player of t he sea­son and Fifa’s best player award in Septem­ber.

Ron­aldo and Messi were among 30 nom­i­nees for the Ballon d’Or, or­gan­ised by France Foot­ball mag­a­zine and which takes votes from 180 jour­nal­ists from around the world.

The Por­tuguese star played with Modric in the Madrid side that won the Cham­pi­ons League be­fore mov­ing to Ju­ven­tus in a typ­i­cally pro­lific year, while Messi has again been out­stand­ing with Barcelona.

The pair had won the prize five times each in the last decade but both are now in their 30s and nei­ther stamped their author­ity on the World Cup.

Messi fin­ishes out­side the top three in the vot­ing for the first time since 2006.

‘Huge step’ for women’s game

The World Cup was al­ways likely to play a key role, and France had hoped to see one of their stars take the award on home soil.

The last time a French­man won the Ballon d’Or came in 1998, when Zine­dine Zi­dane was re­warded for star­ring as Les Bleus won that year’s World Cup.

But per­haps t he lack of a sin­gle stand­out French can­di­date cleared the path for Modric – Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante had a lso been in the run­ning, as had Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur and Eng­land striker Harr y Kane, the World Cup’s top scorer.

“I won the Europa League and the World Cup, so it’s been a great year, but it is true that it was a lit­tle bit dis­ap­point­ing af­ter I was told what the podium was,” said Griez­mann.

Modric has won 14 tro­phies since join­ing Real in 2012, in­clud­ing four Cham­pi­ons Leagues. He could add to that as Real take part in the Club World Cup later this month.

A refugee at one point grow­ing up dur­ing Croa­tia’s War of In­de­pen­dence in t he 1990s, his pop­u­larit y in Croa­tia was hit by his tes­ti­mony last year dur­ing the multi-mil­lion-euro cor­rup­tion tria l of for­mer Di­namo chief Zdravko Mamic.

Pros­e­cu­tors charged Modric for giv­ing false ev­i­dence, but the charges have now been dropped.

Hegerberg, 23, won the women’s prize af­ter star­ring for French side Lyon as they suc­cess­fully de­fended the Cham­pi­ons League ti­tle and won a 12th con­sec­u­tive French ti­tle.

“I want to say thanks to my team­mates be­cause this would not have been pos­si­ble with­out them, my coach or our pres­i­dent Jean-Michel Au­las,” Hegerberg said.

“I also want to thank France Foot­ball. This is a huge step for women’s foot­ball.”

FRANCK FIFE/AFP

Ada Hegerberg, women’s Ballon d’Or win­ner, Luka Modric, Ballon d’Or win­ner, and Kylian Mbappe, who won the Kopa Tro­phy for the best young player, at the end of the 2018 Fifa Ballon d’Or award cer­e­mony at the Grand Palais in Paris on Mon­day.

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