Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric won FIFA’s best player award in London on Monday. Modric pipped Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to the title. The 33-year-old helped Real Madrid win a third straight Champions League title last season. He then led Croatia to their first ever World Cup final in Russia, which they lost 4-2 to France.
“This award is not just mine. It is my team mates’ from Real Madrid and Croatia. Without my coaches, I would not have won this and without my family I would not be the player I am today,” said 33-year-old Modric.
“At this particular moment, I would like to mention my footballing idol and captain of Croatia generation 1998 and their first participation (at the World Cup finals as Croatia) and bronze in France,” Modric said. “He was my big inspiration and that team gave us belief that we could achieve something great in Russia. Hopefully we can be the same for next generations.”
“It is very important, because for such a small country to win the best player award, it’s something amazing and that shows other small countries that everything is possible,” Modric said. “You just need to believe and to work for it. And that all dreams could come true.”
Modric is the first player since Kaka in 2007 to beat Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to FIFA’s top prize, both of whom were not present at the award ceremony. Earlier, Ronaldo had also missed UEFA’s award show where Modric pipped him to the men’s player of the year award.
“We knew we were surrounded by two aliens that were just sharing these awards,” Real Madrid and Spain defender Sergio Ramos said. “But I think it is also very positive to recognize the work, the career and the season of players that are not just strikers. I am really happy for Luka Modric”.
Brazil great Marta won The Best Women’s player of the year award. This is her sixth award, having won the World Player of the Year five consecutive times between 2006 and 2010.
France’s World Cup winning coach Didier Deschamps was chosen as best men’s coach, pipping his former team mate Zinedine Zidane to the title. Deschamps became only the third person to lift the World Cup as both a player and a coach in the men’s game in Russia. Egypt and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah won the Puskas award for the best goal of the year. His goal for Liverpool against Everton in the Premier League won the best goal of the year, which is voted for by fans, ahead of Gareth Bale’s spectacular overhead kick for Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
The FIFPro team of the year was also announced at the FIFA Best ceremony, wherein the goalkeeper of the team was Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois. The defenders were Dani Alves, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo while the forwards were Modric, N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard, Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Peru’s supporters won the FIFA Fan Award and German Lennart Thy, who plays for Turkish club BB Erzurumspor, won the FIFA Fair Play Award after donating stem cells to help a leukemia patient.