London: Luka Modric ended Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s decade-long domination of football’s individual awards by being crowned Fifa’s best player of the year on Monday. The Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder starred for both club and country as Madrid won a third straight Champions League, and he inspired Croatia to reach the World Cup final for the first time.
“The emotion is huge because it is thanks to the work of everyone. So many people have come together and so many have supported me,” said Modric.
Modric beat out Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah and Ronaldo, who along with Messi did not attend the glitzy awards ceremony in London. Both are in action for Juventus and Barcelona on Wednesday, but their no-show attracted criticism after so many years on top.
“Everyone has their own reasons,” said Modric. “Obviously I would have liked them to be here but they aren’t.”
Modric’s success means Ronaldo remains tied with Messi having won Fifa’s award in different guises five times each.
At 33, Croatia’s run to the final was the culmination of a brilliant career for Modric that had often been overshadowed by Ronaldo’s goalscoring in their time together in the Spanish capital, before the Portuguese left for Juventus in July.
Modric scored twice and also netted in penalty shootout wins over Denmark and Russia, but it was his playmaking ability that caught the eye in winning the Golden Ball for the best player at the World Cup.
“It was an unbelievable season, the best season in my life,” said Modric.
Salah scoops best goal
For the first time in 12 years, Messi was not among the finalists with Salah earning a place on the podium for his incredible 44-goal debut season with Liverpool that carried the Reds to the Champions League final. Salah did not go away empty-handed, however, as he picked up the Puskas award for best goal for his strike against Everton in the Merseyside derby last December.
Modric was joined by Real team-mates Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Marcelo in the FIFPro team of the year, also featuring David De Gea, Dani Alves, N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe, Messi and Ronaldo.
France’s World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps won the best coach of the year prize in recognition for his work in leading Les Bleus to success in Russia.
Thibaut Courtois won the best goalkeeper award for helping Belgium reach the World Cup semifinals as well as the FA Cup with Chelsea before a summer move to Madrid.
Brazil’s Marta was crowned best women’s player for a record sixth time. Lyon boss Reynald Pedros became the best women’s coach. — AFP