PARIS, France, Dec 4 – Luka Modric saw off competition from France’s World Cup stars as the Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder won the Ballon d’Or on Monday to end a 10-year stranglehold on the award by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Modric, 33, was announced as the winner of the prestigious prize in Paris ahead of Ronaldo and French World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann.
Ronaldo was a distant second, with France and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann completing the podium.
Paris Saint-Germain’s teenage forward Kylian Mbappe — who won the Kopa Trophy for the best young player — came fourth, leaving Messi to settle for fifth position.
Another Frenchman, Modric’s Madrid teammate Raphael Varane, was seventh, just behind Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah.
“As a kid we all have dreams. My dream was to play for a big club and win important trophies,” Modric said.
“The Ballon d’Or was more than just a dream for me and it is really an honour and a privilege to hold this trophy.”
Modric — the oldest winner since Fabio Cannavaro, also 33, in 2006 — was crowned after an outstanding year in which he starred in the Real side that retained the Champions League before heroically helping drag his country to the final of the World Cup for the first time in their history.
Croatia lost 4-2 to France in Moscow in the final in July.
Meanwhile, Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg was rewarded for her prolific form with Champions League winners Lyon as she took the first ever women’s Ballon d’Or prize.
The 23-year-old saw off competition from the likes of Danish star Pernille Harder, of German club VfL Wolfsburg, and Brazil’s Marta — winner of FIFA’s best player prize — to take the prize organised by France Football magazine following a vote by journalists from around the world.
Hegerberg was one of seven players from the all-conquering Lyon side to feature among the 15 nominees, but she won out thanks to her prolific form in front of goal.
She was the top scorer with 15 goals as the French side won the Champions League for the third year running. One of her goals came in the final in Kiev in May, as Lyon came from behind to beat Wolfsburg 4-1 after extra time and retain the trophy. Harder had put the Germans in front in that game.
“I want to say thanks to my teammates because this would not have been possible without them, my coach or our president Jean-Michel Aulas,” Hegerberg said at the ceremony at the Grand Palais, just off the Champs Elysees.
“I also want to thank France Football. This is a huge step for women’s football.”
Lyon also won the French title for the 12th season in succession, with Hegerberg top-scoring with 31 goals, and she continues to bang in the goals for her team who are top of the table again this season.
Hegerberg, whose elder sister Andrine plays for Lyon’s biggest rivals in France, Paris Saint-Germain, is a Norwegian international but has not played for her country since their disappointing showing at Euro 2017 in the Netherlands.