In a grand ceremony on December 3 in Paris, Luka Modric was awarded the famous Ballon d’Or for his amazing achievements in football in the past year. This year’s awards were historic in many ways, and included two new trophies including the first ever Women’s Ballon d’Or and the Raymond Kopa Trophy for the best player under 21 years.
Let’s take a closer look at the winners and what they achieved.
Ballon d’Or 2018
Name: Luka Modric
Club: Real Madrid
National Team: Croatia
After finishing in fifth place in the polling last year, Luka Modric won the trophy ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé, and Lionel Messi. Amazingly, this was the first time since Brazilian legend Kaka’s victory in 2007 that neither Messi nor Ronaldo had won the prize. Messi also finished outside the top 3 for the first time since 2006.
Luka Modric is the first Croatian player to win the award. In September, he also claimed FIFA’s The Best award, again winning over Messi and Ronaldo. He has had an outstanding year, leading Real Madrid to their third consecutive Champions League and reaching the World Cup final, where he also won the Golden Ball for the Best Player of the Tournament.
Women’s Ballon d’Or 2018
Name: Ada Martine Stolsmo Hegerberg
Club: Olympique Lyonnais
National Team: Norway
Ada Hergerberg made history as the first Women’s Ballon d’Or winner. France Football magazine has been awarding the Ballon d’Or since 1956 and created the women’s award for the first time this year. Ada is a three-time Champion’s League winner with Lyon and scored a tournament-record 15 times last season. She is no stranger to individual awards having also won UEFA’s Best Women’s Player in Europe 2016, Norwegian Sportsperson of the Year 2016, and the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2017. She finished first in the rankings ahead of Pernille Harder (Denmark and Wolfsburg), Dzsenifer Maroszan (Germany and Lyon), Marta (Brazil and Orlando Pride), and Sam Kerr (Australia and Chicago Red Stars).
During her acceptance speech, Hegerberg said. “I would like to end with some words to young girls all over the world: Please, believe in yourself.”
Raymond Kopa Trophy (Best Player Under 21)
Name: Kylian Mbappé Lottin
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
National Team: France
The first ever Raymond Kopa Trophy given to the best under-21 player was awarded to PSG and France’s 19-year-old sensation Kylian Mbappé. The trophy is named after the legendary midfielder of France and Real Madrid in the 1950s. Mbappé finished ahead of Christian Pulisic (USA and Borussia Dortmund), and Justin Kluivert (Netherlands and AS Roma). He became the second-youngest player to ever score in a World Cup final in France’s victory earlier this year. He was also nominated for the main Ballon d’Or prize and finished in 4th place.
What is the Ballon d’Or?
It is an annual football award conceived of and presented by France Football magazine since 1956. The award honours the player who had the best performance over the previous year, voted on by football journalists.
England’s Stanley Mathews was the first ever winner and it was awarded only to European players until 1995, when it was opened to any player at a European club. Since 2007 it has been open to the rest of the world.
Between 2010 and 2015 an agreement was made with FIFA and it merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year to become the FIFA Ballon d’Or. However the partnership ended in 2016 and the two awards have remained separate ever since.
Written by: Zarir De Vitre. Zarir is a Mumbai based sustainability consultant. He enjoys drinking tea, playing with Lego, and football and basketball.