The Croatian midfielder Luka Modric was named FIFA’s player of the year for the 2017-18 season on Monday, ending a decade of dominance by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Modric, 33, was honored for winning the Champions League with Real Madrid for the fourth time in five seasons and leading Croatia to its first World Cup final. In the women’s game, Marta won her sixth player of the year award, and her first since 2010, after leading Brazil to Copa América Femenina glory.
“This trophy is not just mine,” Modric said. “It’s for all my Real Madrid teammates. For all my teammates in the Croatia national team. For all the coaches that I have played for.”
Messi and Ronaldo had been the only winners of FIFA’s top individual award since 2008, winning five titles each.
This year Ronaldo finished runner-up to Modric, his former Real Madrid teammate. Finishing third was Mohamed Salah, who scored a record 32 goals in the English Premier League and helped Liverpool reach its first Champions League final in 11 years.
Modric, who is 5-foot-8, was doubted early in his career because of his height.
“These things were not a burden, they only further motivated me,” Modric said at the World Cup. “You don’t have to be a strapping lad to play football.”
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There has been a cloud over Modric, who was charged with perjury in March in an investigation linked to his transfer to Tottenham from Dinamo Zagreb in 2008. Prosecutors claimed that Modric gave a false court statement last year about his financial deals with a former Zagreb director.
But this was a night for celebration by the River Thames, leaving Zvonimir Boban, the former Croatia captain, in tears.
“He was my big inspiration, and that team gave us belief that we could achieve something great in Russia,” Modric said of Boban and Croatia’s first World Cup team, in 1998. “Hopefully we can be the same for next generations.”
Didier Deschamps was voted manager of the year after becoming only the third man to win the World Cup as a player and coach. Reynald Pedros, who led Lyon to titles in the French league and Champions League, was named the top women’s manager.