By Tom Bodell, Football Whispers
Luka Modrić has won the 2018 Ballon d'Or, breaking up the decade-long duopoly of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Real Madrid midfielder captained Croatia to the 2018 FIFA World Cup final against all odds where their fairytale run was only halted by heavy favourites France.
At club level the former Tottenham Hotspur metronome was instrumental as Real Madrid made history by winning a third consecutive UEFA Champions League.
The 33-year-old's victory was expected ahead of tonight's awards ceremony in Paris, France. Modrić had already won the Golden Ball for his displays at the World Cup and was named Best Men's Player at The FIFA Best Awards.
The Ballon d'Or has been the exclusive domain of FC Barcelona icon Messi and former Real Madrid great Ronaldo since 2008 with the pair tied on five victories each. Former AC Milan midfielder Kaká was the last player to win it prior to Messi and Ronaldo in 2007.
Ronaldo, who joined Juventus from Real Madrid in the summer, came second while Messi was voted fifth.
The top ten:
1. Luka Modric (Real Madrid and Croatia)
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus and Portugal)
3. Antoine Griezmann (Atlético deMadrid and France)
4. Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain and France)
5. Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona and Argentina)
6. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt)
7. Raphael Varane (Real Madrid and France)
8. Eden Hazard (Chelsea and Belgium)
9. Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City and Belgium)
10. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur and England)
"It's an unbelievable feeling," said Modrić, who becomes the first Croatian player to win the award. "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."
"In my career I've realised that hard work and persistence in difficult moments sets the foundation to show your talent," he added.
"One phrase I like to say: 'The best things never come easy.' For me to achieve all this, nothing was easy."
Olympique Lyonnais forward Ada Hegerberg made history by becoming the inaugural winner of the Women's Ballon d'Or.
Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappé capped a stellar 2018 in which he won the World Cup by clinching the first Kopa Trophy, awarded the the best under-21.