Mo­dric wins 2018 Bal­lon d’Or, breaks Messi-Ron­aldo dom­i­nance

Tehran Times - - WORLD SPORTS -

Real Madrid’s Croa­tia mid­fielder Luka Mo­dric was named win­ner of the 2018 Bal­lon d’Or on Mon­day, break­ing Cris­tiano Ron­aldo’s and Lionel Messi’s decade-long hold on the pres­ti­gious award.

Ju­ven­tus for­ward and 2017 win­ner Ron­aldo came sec­ond, while Atletico Madrid and France striker An­toine Griez­mann came third.

Paris St Ger­main’s France for­ward Kylian Mbappe, who also col­lected the Kopa award for the best un­der-21 player, was fourth, with Barca for­ward Messi fin­ish­ing fifth.

Olympique Ly­on­nais’ Nor­way striker Ada Hegerberg won the in­au­gu­ral Bal­lon d’Or for women’s foot­ball, hav­ing led her side to the Women’s Cham­pi­ons League ti­tle, scor­ing in ex­tra time in the 4-1 win over Vfl Wolfs­burg in the fi­nal.

Mo­dric, 33, helped Real Madrid win a third suc­ces­sive Cham­pi­ons League ti­tle in May and also cap­tained Croa­tia to their first World Cup fi­nal, be­ing named player of the tour­na­ment de­spite his side los­ing 4-2 to France.

“It’s a unique feel­ing. I’m happy proud and hon­oured, I have a lot of emo­tions right now, it’s hard to de­scribe in words,” said Mo­dric, wear­ing a tuxedo as he col­lected the award from pre­sen­ter and for­mer France for­ward David Gi­nola af­ter a glam­orous cer­e­mony at the Grand Palais in Paris.

“It’s a big plea­sure to be here among all these play­ers. I am still try­ing to re­alise that I have be­come part of a group of ex­cep­tional play­ers to win the Bal­lon d’Or through­out his­tory.”

DIF­FI­CULT START

Mo­dric, who joined Real Madrid from Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur in 2012 for a re­ported 40 mil­lion eu­ros ($45.40 mil­lion), was crit­i­cised in his de­but sea­son at the Bern­abeu and named the worst sign­ing of the year in a poll by news­pa­per Marca.

But the diminu­tive play­maker be­gan to demon­strate the qual­ity he had shown at Spurs when Jose Mour­inho de­ployed him in a deep ly­ing role in Real’s mid­field rather than the at­tack­ing role he had been given at the start of that cam­paign.

Mo­dric said the po­si­tional change, which was first sug­gested to him by Harry Red­knapp at Tot­ten­ham, trans­formed his form.

“The change of po­si­tion helped me a lot in my ca­reer. I used to play more of­fen­sively. When I dropped back, I was able to read the game bet­ter and show my cre­ativ­ity,” added Mo­dric.

He is the first Croa­t­ian to win the Bal­lon d’Or and also picked up FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award in Oc­to­ber.

The Bal­lon d’or, voted for by jour­nal­ists and or­gan­ised by French mag­a­zine France Foot­ball, has been dom­i­nated by Barcelona’s Messi and Ron­aldo, first when he was at Manch­ester United and sub­se­quently with Real Madrid, since 2008.

The last player to lift the award apart from the Ar­gen­tine and Por­tuguese, who have won it a joint-record five times each, was Kaka in 2007 when the Brazil­ian played for AC Mi­lan.

The Bal­lon d’Or was first pre­sented in 1956 and part­nered with soc­cer’s world gov­ern­ing body FIFA as ‘The Best’ award from 2010 to 2015, un­til be­com­ing its own en­tity again.

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