On Monday night, Luka Modrić became the first ever Croatian to win one of football's highest individual honours, the Ballon d’Or. The player, who captained the Croatian national football team in the 2018 World Cup and who also plays for Real Madrid, beat the likes of Antoine Griezmann and previous winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the prize.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have each won the coveted award a record five times each, but judges decided that Modrić's combined performances for his club and country were superior to their efforts this year. The Ballon d’Or is one of football's longest-standing awards for an individual player and has been awarded every year since Stanley Matthews of Blackpool won the inaugural award in 1956. The previous highest ranking Croatian up for the award was Davor Šuker who came in second place in the 1998 competition.
It's already been an incredibly successful year for Luka Modrić. 2018 has seen him win the Champions League with Real Madrid, a runner-up medal as part of the Croatian national team at the World Cup, plus individual achievements like UEFA Player of the Year, FIFA ‘Best’ Player of the Year, Golden Ball at the World Cup and IFFHS Playmaker of the Year.