Luka Modric clinches Ballon d’Or, Ada Hegerberg creates history with first-ever women’s award

Croatian superstar Luka Modric capped off a memorable 2018 season with one of the ultimate individual accolades for a player. Luka Modric was awarded the Ballon d’Or in Paris on Monday night, owing to his third straight Champions League win with Real Madrid and his midfield masterclass for Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The Real Madrid midfielder ended the decade-long dominance of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to clinch football’s most coveted individual prize.

On the other hand, it was Olympique Lyon player Ada Hegerberg who clinched the first ever women’s Ballon d’Or. Hegerberg was one of seven players from the all-conquering Lyon side to feature among the 15 nominees. She was the leading scorer with 15 goals as the French side won the Champions League for the third year running.

Modric started as one of the favorites and top three players alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann to win the prize. And the Croatian beat the Portuguese and French in the same order. Luka Modric had an eventful year for both club and country. He was instrumental in leading Real Madrid to their record 13th Champions League title and a record third straight title in the Champions League era. Modric also captained Croatia to their best FIFA World Cup campaign, as Zlatko Dilic’s side finished runners-up in the tournament. Modric displayed a masterclass in the midfield, including the memorable 3-0 win over Argentina.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling and a big pleasure to be here among all these players,” claimed Modric.
“I am still trying to realize that I have become part of a group of exceptional players. To win means I did something really special on the pitch this year, that’s why 2018 was the year for me.”

France World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe was awarded the Kopa Trophy for the best young player of the season. The Paris-Saint Germain starlet won the Ligue 1 last season and became a World Cup winner, whilst becoming one of the youngest players to score in a World Final. Mbappe stood 4th in the Ballon d’Or list as well.

The Ballon d’Or has been awarded to a men’s player by France Football every year since 1956, but this is the first year there has been a women’s award.

“I want to say thanks to my team-mates because this would not have been possible without them, my coach or our president Jean-Michel Aulas,” Hegerberg said at the ceremony in Paris. “I also want to thank France Football. This is a huge step for women’s football.” The ceremony, however, was marred by leaks of both the Men’s Ballon d’Or winner and Men’s Kopa award winner just hours before the official announcement was made.

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