Luka Modric broke a decade of award dominance by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi by being crowned world footballer of the year by Fifa.
Beating fellow nominees Mohamed Salah and Ronaldo to the prize at last night’s awards ceremony in London, Modric was voted the world’s best player in the 2017-18 season after winning the Champions League for a fourth time in five seasons with Real Madrid and leading Croatia to their first World Cup final (where they lost to France).
Messi and Ronaldo were the only winners of world football’s main individual award from Fifa in various guises since 2008, both winning five titles each. Neither of them turned up last night.
In his speech, former Tottenham midfielder Modric thanked his team-mates and family in English, Spanish and Croatian, and said he was proud to receive the prize in front of Fifa’s deputy general secretary Zvonimir Boban, a star of Croatia’s 1998 World Cup side.
Modric, who also won the player of the tournament prize at Russia 2018 and Uefa player of the year accolade last month, said: “It’s a great honour and a beautiful feeling to stand here with this amazing trophy. First of all, I would like to give congratulations to Mohamed [Salah] and Cristiano [Ronaldo] for the great season that they’ve had and I’m sure in the future they will have another opportunity to fight for this trophy.”
The 33-year-old added: “This trophy is not just mine, it’s for all my Real Madrid team-mates, for all my team-mates from the Croatia national team, for all the coaches that I have played for.
“Without them, this would not be possible and thank you a lot to them.
“This trophy is also for my family, without whom I would not be the player and person that I am. They are my ‘the best’.”
Didier Deschamps was voted manager of the year after becoming only the third man to win the World Cup as a player and coach, while Belgium’s No 1 Thibaut Courtois was goalkeeper of the year.
Marta won the women’s player of the year award for a sixth time – and her first since 2010 – after leading Brazil to Copa America Femenina glory. She also scored 13 goals as Orlando Pride reached the NWSL play-offs.
Salah won the Puskas Award for his goal in the Merseyside derby last December.