Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric claimed the Ballon d’Or in Paris on Monday night.
The 33-year-old superstar became the first Croatian footballer to be rewarded the coveted individual prize which saw him end a decade-long Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly.
Ever since Kaka got his hands on the Ballon d’Or in 2007, Messi and Ronaldo took turns in claiming the prize five times each and Luka Modric has put an end to a long-lasting dominance which captivated the modern day game.
The Ballon d’Or triumph capped a memorable year for Luka Modric.
The experienced midfielder led Real Madrid to the Champions League glory in 2018 for the fourth time in his career. He was also Croatia’s best player as he led the nation into the first-ever World Cup final with a captain ban wrapped around his arm.
Consequently, Modric picked up UEFA’s Midfielder of the Season award, was named the World Cup Golden Ball winner and given the Best FIFA Men’s Player award. As accolades go – both collectively and individually – it’s a tally that’s difficult to argue against.
The Monday night Ballon d’Or recognition came as an ultimate acknowledgment of everything Luka Modric stands for in football today. His road to ultimate prominence was long and bumpy one and his journey of a boy herding sheep in wolf-packed hills of Croatia to becoming a world star footballer truly is a remarkable one.
As a big star of one of this year’s feel-good football stories Luka Modric won our hearts but was he a deserved winner of the Ballon d’Or?
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The debate is ongoing so let’s provide more proof to support the claim the world’s most coveted prize did land in the right hands.
At the age of 33 and with a string of prizes ornamenting his trophy wall, Luka Modric has now completed the collection. The 2018 Ballon d’Or sumps up fifteen year of Modric’s excellence but that very point was enough to open the heartfelt debate.
What are the main criteria behind the Ballon d’Or award?
France Football clearly states the coveted prize is awarded based on three main elements – individual and collective performances during a year, player class’ (talent and fair play) and the player’s career as a whole.
While Luka Modric definitely ticked all the boxes in 2018, so did a couple of other players however.
First of the lot – and deservedly ahead another high-class performer Antoine Griezmann – is Juventus star and Luka Modric’s former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. His sister argues raised the mafia claims in Ballon d’Or decision-making but the comparison with Luka will reveal plenty of arguments that go in favour of the Croat.
Modric – Messi – Ronaldo?
Modric’s reward is honouring sustained excellence on a personal level which Luka Modric translated into on-pitch superiority in both of his teams this season – Croatia and Real Madrid.
Antoine Griezmann did go a step further to win the World Cup and Cristiano Ronaldo also has got that Champions League medal to wave at us. It is that Luka Modric’s consistent excellence over a period of 90 minutes – and on several occasions at World Cup during extra time as well – that separates him from the Portuguese.
Some would throw Leo Messi into equation and would be right to do so. The Argentine wizard is arguably the best player of all time and boasts consistent excellence throughout his career – with an exemption of 2018.
Luka Modric might not have Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi’s goal tally and might be perceived as not much than a pass master. Yet he is much more than that. Modric boasts energy and dynamism second to none, while his combative nature and an industrious nerve make him a giant at the centre of the pitch.
At his mature best Luka Modric has been ridiculously dominant throughout 2018 and was quite deservedly awarded with this year’s Ballon d’Or which might as well be a reward for his life’s work. It has that much of weight.
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