Luka Modric Wins Ballon d’Or, Ending Decade of Messi and Ronaldo Dominance

Luka Modric. Photo by James Marsh/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

Real Madrid and Croatia’s ace Luka Modric won the coveted Ballon d’Or award on Monday, ending a decade of triumphs by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Lyon and Norway’s Ada Hegerberg won the first ever Ballon d’Or in the female division while French World Cup winner and PSG’s forward Kylian Mbappe won the first ever Kopa Trophy (an award for the best U21 player).

Modric, 33, led Real Madrid to their third back-to-back Champions League win earlier in the year before helping Croatia reach the World Cup final in Russia. The midfielder edged out former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, who’s won the award five times. Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezman came in third, just ahead of his French compatriot Kylian Mbappe.

Messi, who won La Liga and the Copa del Rey title with Barcelona but suffered a poor run with Argentina at the World Cup, was ranked fifth, his worst performance at the event since 2006.

“It is a unique feeling,” Modric said after clinching the award. “I have sensational feelings in me at the moment which I find hard to describe.”

Hegerberg, who became the first woman to ever receive the prestigious award shared a message of encouragement to women.

“It is fantastic. It is (a) great achievement for me,” Hegerberg said. “I want to ask every young woman to believe in themselves.”

Liverpool’s forward Mohammed Salah was the best ranked African player at the event (6th) and the highest position for an African since Samuel Eto’o in 2009 (5th). Brazil and PSG’s Neymar was ranked outside the top 10 (12th) for the first time in more than five years while teammate Edinson Cavani was 22nd.

Overall, Real Madrid produced eight players in the 30-man shortlist while Liverpool produced four. All the players, nonetheless, came from Europe’s top clubs.