In a historical feat, Real Madrid's Croatia midfielder Luka Modric was named winner of the 2018 Ballon d'Or, breaking Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's decade-long hold on the prestigious award. He was followed by Juventus forward and 2017 winner Ronaldo, who came second, and Atltico Madrid and France striker Antoine Griezmann came third. Fourth, was Paris St. Germain's France forward Kylian Mbappe, who also collected the Kopa award for best under-21 player, with Barca forward Messi finishing fifth.
33 year old Modric helped his team win a third successive Champions League title in May and also captained Croatia to their first World Cup final. He was named player of the tournament despite his side losing 4-2 to France. Modric said, “It's a unique feeling. I'm happy proud and honoured, I have a lot of emotions right now, it's hard to describe in words,” as he collected the award from former France forward David Ginola after a glamarous ceremony at the Grand Palais in Paris. He added, “It's a big pleasure to be here among all these players. I am still trying to realise that I have become part of a group of exceptional players to win the Ballon d'Or throughout history.”
Modric never really had a rosy start, having been criticised in his debut season at the Bernabeu in 2012 and named the worst signing of the year in a poll by a newspaper. He however, began to demonstrate the quality he had shown back at Spurs when Jose Mourinho deployed him in a deep lying role in Real's midfield rather than the attacking role he had been given at the beginning of that campaign. He said the positional change, which was first suggested to him by Harry Redknapp at Tottenham, completely changed his form. “The change of position helped me a lot in my career. I used to play more offensively. When I dropped back, I was able to read the game better and show my creativity,” Modric said.
The first Croatian to win the Ballon d'Or, he also picked up FIFA's 'The Best' award in October. Organised by French magazine France Football, the Ballon d'Or, is voted for by journalists. It has been dominated by Messi and Ronaldo since 2008. The last player to lift the award other than the Argentine and Portuguese, who have won it a joint-record five times each, was Kaka in 2007, when the Brazilian played for AC Milan. The award was first presented in 1956, and partnered with soccer's world governing body FIFA as 'The Best' award from 2010 to 2015.
First Women’s Ballon d’Or Winner Ada Hegerberg Asked to Twerk on Stage
It was a night of firsts at the inaugural Ballon d'Or award, with Olympique Lyonnais and Norway forward Ada Hegerberg winning award for the best player in women's football. However, the glorious moment was tarnished when French host DJ Solveig asked her a question that reminds us why women's victories can't be respected. Hegerberg, who helped lead Lyon win the Women's Champions League last season was rightfully embarrassed and answered a quick “non” when asked to do a provocative dance.
On stage, after she collected the award, DJ Solveig who was co-hosting the award with David Ginola, asked her, “You've seen that I prepared a little celebration for (France forward) Kylian (Mbappe) so we said we're going to do something similar. Do you know how to twerk?” Solveig soon faced the wrath of social media following his exchange with the 23-year-old and was quick to apologise for his comments with a video posted on Twitter. “I’m a little amazed and astonished with what I’m reading on the internet, of course I didn’t want to offend anyone,” he said. “This was a joke probably a bad one, I want to apologise to the one I offended, sorry about that.”
Hegerberg played down the incident. “He (Solveig) came to me afterwards and was really sad that it went that way. I didn’t really think about it at the time to be honest. I didn’t really consider it a sexual harassment or anything in the moment,” she said.
Arsenal centre-back and Ireland international Louise Quinn gave her two penny's worth on the controversy, and said, “It just shows that people just come out with these questions or comments without giving it a second thought, and it must change. Women’s football is taking huge strides and questions and comments like this take away from those strides we have taken. Instead of the attention going to a world-class player for her talent it will all be about Solveig’s question.”