Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric (L) speaks past host David Ginola after receiving the 2018 FIFA Men's Ballon d'Or award for best player of the year during the 2018 FIFA Ballon d'Or award ceremony at the Grand Palais in Paris on December 3, 2018. - The winner of the 2018 Ballon d'Or will be revealed at a glittering ceremony in Paris on December 3 evening, with Croatia's Luka Modric and a host of French World Cup winners all hoping to finally end the 10-year duopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric has won the 2018 Ballon d’Or, becoming the first Croatian ever to do so. It is the first time since 2007 that neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Lionel Messi has won the award after Modric beat finalists Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann to this year’s prize.

Kylian Mbappe, who finished fourth in the overall competition, won the inaugural Kopa trophy, awarded to the world’s best under-21 player. Ada Hegerberg, the striker who scored 15 times for Lyon in their victorious Champions League campaign, won the first ever women’s prize.

Luka Modric Wins the 2018 Ballon d’Or

Modric’s Remarkable Year

Luka Modric has already won UEFA’s and FIFA’s main individual awards this year after a stellar season for club and country. Real Madrid won their third consecutive Champions League, with Modric being named the midfielder of the tournament. Modric seemed almost unable to comprehend that he had won.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling and a big pleasure to be here among all these players.

“I am still trying to realise that I have become part of a group of exceptional players. To win means I did something really special on the pitch this year, that’s why 2018 was the year for me.”

It was his performances for Croatia at the World Cup that may have swung the balance. He was exemplary throughout the tournament as his unfancied Croatian side reached the final. He won the Golden Ball, marking the best player at the tournament, and was the bookies’ favourite for the Ballon d’Or before the evening began.

No Victory For Ronaldo or Messi

The Ballon d’Or award has been dominated in recent times by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but Messi was only awarded fifth place this year. This was despite netting 45 goals in 54 games. Due to the unprecedented standard he sets, last season won’t be remembered as his greatest but to declare that four players are better than Lionel Messi in 2018 is utterly laughable.

The latter half of the top ten contained the Premier League’s elite; Mo Salah finished sixth after an outstanding season for Liverpool while Eden Hazard, Kevin De Brunye and Harry Kane rounded out the top ten. Champions League and World Cup-winning defender Raphael Varane finished seventh, the highest defender on the list.

Neymar, who many thought moved to Paris Saint-Germain with the sole aim of winning the Ballon d’Or, finished in eleventh place. His PSG teammate faired much better, as Kylian Mbappe capped off a hugely memorable year. In addition to winning the World Cup and becoming the first teenager to score in the final since Pele, he has become one of the world’s most feared forwards.

He won the inaugural Kopa award, edging out other impressive young talents. They included Trent Alexander-Arnold, Christian Pulisic and Gianluigi Donnarumma. Despite their impressive achievements, Mbappe was a worthy winner.

Lyon striker Ada Hegerberg won the first ever women’s award. She was one of seven nominees from the hugely impressive Lyon side that won their third Champions League trophy in a row this year. Hegerberg is a worthy winner; she scored 42 goals in 25 games last year, an outrageous goalscoring return.

Hegerberg finished above Denmark striker Pernille Harder and Germany midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan. England and Lyon defender Lucy Bronze came in sixth.

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