Mo­dric sees off Messi, Ron­aldo stran­gle­hold to win Bal­lon d’Or

Times of Oman - - SPORTS -

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 Italy’s Fabio Can­navaro, also 33, in 2006 -- was crowned af­ter an out­stand­ing year in which he starred in the Real side that re­tained the Cham­pi­ons League be­fore hero­ically helping drag his coun­try to the fi­nal of the World Cup for the first time in their his­tory.

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 the sea­son and FIFA’s best player award in Septem­ber.

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 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.

‘Huge step’ for women’s game

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 the lack of a sin­gle stand­out French can­di­date cleared the path for Mo­dric -- Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante had also been in the run­ning, as had Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur and Eng­land striker Harry 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 the 1990s, his pop­u­lar­ity in Croa­tia was hit by his tes­ti­mony last year dur­ing the multi-mil­lion-euro cor­rup­tion trial 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 JeanMichel Au­las,” Hegerberg said.

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

– AFP

DREAM COME TRUE: Real Madrid’s Croa­t­ian mid­fielder Luka Mo­dric (C) pose with his par­ents af­ter the 2018 Bal­lon d’Or award cer­e­mony at the Grand Palais in Paris.

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