Modric ends Messi, Ronaldo grip on Ballon d’Or

Luka Modric saw off competition from a host of French World Cup stars as the Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder won the 2018 Ballon d’Or on Monday night, ending the 10-year stranglehold on the award by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Modric, 33, was announced as the winner of the prestigious prize in a glitzy ceremony held in Paris. Ronaldo was second, with France and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann completing the podium. Paris Saint-Germain’s teenage forward Kylian Mbappe came fourth, leaving Messi to settle for fifth position. Mbappe, 19, picked up the consolation prize of the Kopa Trophy for the best young player.

Modric was crowned after an outstanding year in which he starred in the Real side that retained the Champions League before heroically helping drag his country to the final of the World Cup for the first time in their history. Croatia lost 4-2 to France in Moscow in the final in July. Modric claimed the Golden Ball for the best player at the World Cup before picking up UEFA’s prize for player of the season and FIFA’s best player award in September.

The gala ceremony also saw a women’s Ballon d’Or named for the first time, with Lyon’s prolific Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg taking that award. Hegerberg said the introduction of a women's Ballon d'Or was a “big step forward” for the game, playing down suggestions her historic victory was overshadowed after being asked to perform a "twerk" live on stage.

The Lyon star — whose prolific form in front of goal helped the French club secure a third successive Champions League victory -- edged out Danish forward Pernille Harder to claim the inaugural prize. But the 23-year-old was asked if she would perform a sexually provocative dance by French host DJ Martin Solveig, and appeared embarrassed as she rejected the request.

The Ballon d’Or is organised by France Football magazine, which takes votes from 180 journalists from around the world. Ronaldo and Messi had won the prize five times each in the last decade.