It may be of scare comfort for Luka Modric after seeing his side come up short in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final to France, but the Croatia skipper joined illustrious company on Sunday as he picked up the Golden Ball for his sensational displays over the past month in Russia.
The 32-year-old scored twice and had an assist, but notably covered the most ground at the quadrennial tournament and orchestrated the Vatreni’s sensational run to the final with his broad range of passing and superb recoveries each time a teammate lost the ball.
And if everyone didn’t know it already, the Real Madrid man proved he’s one of the cleanest players in the modern game as he didn’t pick up a single caution in seven games.
Pele, widely considered the greatest footballer of all time, won the award in 1970 while Johan Cruyff got bestowed with the accolade in 1974.
Lionel Messi scooped it in the previous edition while Brazilian forward Ronaldo won it in 1998 and Modric has done well to join the ranks of such greats.
However, the diminutive midfielder couldn’t quite have the desired impact in the final, with Paul Pogba and Co. proving too strong for the Vatreni in the final.
France ran out 4-2 winners on the night and while they were helped by a controversial penalty, Les Blues deserved their victory in the end and it was just a bridge too far for Modric and his teammates.
Perhaps, the toll of playing in three consecutive extra-time matches, two of which went to penalties, took its toll on the Eastern Europeans as the came up short in the final hurdle.
They will, no doubt, return home as national heroes with Modric rightly front and centre for his impressive display for his country.
France forward Kylian Mbappe picked up the Best Young Player award, while Belgian custodian Thibaut Courtois was awarded the Golden Glove.
England striker Harry Kane won the Golden Boot due to his six strikes.
The complete list of Golden Ball winners:
- Jose Nasazi (Uruguay) 1930
- Giuseppe Meazza (Italy) 1934
- Leonidas (Brazil) 1950
- Zizinho (Brazil) 1954
- Ferenc Puskas 1954)
- Didi (Brazil ) 1958
- Garrincha (Brazil) 1962
- Bobby Charlton (England) 1966
- Pele (Brazil) 1970
- Johan Cruyff (Holland) 1974
- Mario Keempes (Argentina) 1978
- Paolo Rossi (Italy) 1982
- Diego Maradona (Argentina) 1986
- Salvatore Schillachi (Italy) 1990
- Romario (Brazil) 1994
- Ronaldo (Brazil) 1998
- Oliver Kahn (Germany) 2002
- Zinedine Zidane (France) 2006
- Diego Forlan (Uruguay) 2010
- Lionel Messi (Argentina) 2014
- Luka Modric (Croatia) 2018