Luca Modric wins Ballon d’Or, ending Messi/Ronaldo decade-long triumphs

Luca Modric
Luca Modric

Croatia and Real Madrid star, Luka Modric, on Monday won the 2018 Ballon d’Or, becoming the first player not named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to earn the honor since 2007.

Modric, 33, beat out Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann, respectively, for the illustrious prize. Both Ronaldo and Messi had won it five times apiece over a 10-year run, and all three men were named to France Football’s 30-player shortlist in October. Messi’s fifth-place finish is his worst since 2006 and it comes despite leading Barcelona to La Liga and Copa del Rey titles.

The midfielder adds the award to his list of others accolades received this year, including UEFA Best Player, FIFA Best Men’s Player and the Golden Ball at the World Cup.

Modric helped Real Madrid win its third straight Champions League title earlier this year before taking Croatia to its first World Cup appearance. Croatia’s captain scored two goals, had one assist and led the tournament in minutes played and miles ran in Russia.

Ronaldo finished in second place, while Griezmann of Atletico Madrid and France came in third. Messi finished behind 19-year-old French striker Kylian Mbappe, who helped lead his country to a World Cup title in Russia this summer and was also awarded the first Kopa Trophy, given to the world’s best player under the age of 21. Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, who led the Premier League in scoring last season, finished sixth.

Before Modric won this year’s award, the last player other than Messi or Ronaldo to win the Ballon d’Or was Kaka in 2007.