Luka Modric has been crowned world player of the year, bringing an end to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s decade-long duopoly on football’s coveted individual prize.
At the FIFA Best awards at London’s Royal Festival Hall, Modric beat fellow finalists Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah following his exploits for Real Madrid and Croatia in 2018.
Former Tottenham midfielder Modric won the Champions League with Real then led his county to the final of the World Cup in Russia, where they lost to France.
‘It’s a great honour and beautiful feeling to stand here with this amazing trophy,’ Modric said.
‘First of all I would like to give congratulations to Mohamed and Cristiano for the great seasons they had.
‘This trophy is not just mine, it is for all my Real Madrid team-mates, for all my team-mates from the Croatian national team, for all the coaches I have played for. Without them, this would not be possible.’
Modric then turned his attention towards 26-year-old Salah, who was in attendance at the lavish awards ceremony while Juventus superstar Ronaldo stayed in Italy.
‘I’m sure in the future you will have another opportunity to fight for this trophy,’ he finished.
Modric’s Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale offered his congratulations via his official Twitter account, posting: ‘Congratulations my friend! An unbelievable player and an unbelievable season.’
Former Brazil star Pele also saluted Modric and his compatriot Marta.
He tweeted: ‘Congratulations to Luka and Marta on winning the #TheBest awards tonight. It’s been a privilege to see you both play this season.’
While ex-Los Blancos defender Alvaro Arbeloa was effusive in his praise.
He tweeted: ‘Some of us knew long ago that you would come to the top of the world, but that is not why we rejoice less. “Best player in the world”. Congratulations @lukamodric10!’
Modric’s Croatia team-mate Mateo Kovacic wrote on Twitter: “Just #thebest! Nobody deserves this more than you! Our captain.’
Ronaldo did not turn up at the awards, apparently because of commitments with Juventus, though his absence fuelled rumours he snubbed the ceremony as a result of not winning.
Barcelona superstar Messi failed to make the three-man shortlist for the first time since 2006 and was also not present at the Royal Festival Hall in London on Monday night.
The voting system is weighted between national team managers, national captains, media representatives and an online vote. Previously known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or, it had been won by Messi and Ronaldo five times apiece over the last 10 years.
Meanwhile, Thibaut Courtois was named Goalkeeper of the Year while Didier Deschamps picked up Coach of the Year.
The Real Madrid shot-stopper won the award primarily in recognition of his performances with Belgium at this summer’s World Cup, but was also a key figure for Chelsea in an otherwise difficult campaign for the Premier League club last season.
Courtois won the Golden Glove in Russia after helping Belgium to their best-ever finish in the competition. They finished third after beating England in the play-off and knocked out Japan and Brazil before falling to eventual winners France in the semi-finals.
The 26-year-old, who beat Kasper Schmeichel and Hugo Lloris to claim the award, said: ‘I’m really proud and happy to have won this trophy. I want to thank my team-mates at Chelsea, Real Madrid, Belgium and also my managers.
‘I also want to thank my family, who are there for the good times, the bad times and always give m