Modric ends Ronaldo and Messi’s grip on Ballon d’Or
LUKA MODRIC’S glorious 2018 received the ultimate recognition as he was awarded the Ballon d’Or.
The prize has been the property of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the past decade but two vacant seats on the front row showed neither had accepted the invite to be at the Grand Palais.
Modric — the first ‘new’ winner since Brazil great Kaka in 2007 — has had an exceptional 12 months. He was instrumental in helping his club, Real Madrid, win a third consecutive Champions League in May and then became the heartbeat in the Croatia team who reached the World Cup final.
He won the Golden Ball for his performances in Russia and was then awarded The Best prize by FIFA in late summer but it is this trophy — created by France
Football and first presented to Sir Stanley Matthews in 1956 — that puts the seal on his efforts.
Modric’s majority was such that, following a vote by 180 journalists, he secured 753 points compared to Ronaldo (453) and Antoine Griezmann (414) in second and third.
The 33-year-old has been a class apart, and he said: ‘It is a unique feeling, I have such sensational emotions that I can’t really describe. When I was a kid, the dream was to play for big clubs and win trophies. The Ballon d’Or was more than a dream.’
There has been no Premier League winner since Michael Owen in 2001 but there was, at least, a healthy representation from the domestic league. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (sixth) fared best ahead of Eden Hazard (eighth), Kevin de Bruyne (ninth) and Harry Kane (10th).
Norway and Lyon striker Ada Hegerberg won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or, but was embroiled in a sexism row after being asked if she could ‘twerk’ by French DJ Martin Solveig as she collected her award.
The 23-year- old, who scored 15 goals for Lyon during a triumphant Champions League campaign last season, was encouraged to perform the provocative dance move as she gave her acceptance speech.
She replied ‘no’ and turned away from the podium as Solveig laughed off her answer and players in the audience looked on in bemusement. Solveig later apologised.