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Modric ends an era
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 29 - 11 - 2018

Luka Modric, the UEFA Champions League winner and World Cup runner-up, has been named the 2018 winner of the Ballon d'Or award.
Modric thus ended Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's decade of Ballon d'Or dominance when he was announced the winner on Monday night in Paris in the 63rd edition of the prestigious award.
It was obvious that Modric deserved to win the Ballon d'Or after his terrific season with Real Madrid and Croatia. He received 753 points.
Ronaldo came second with 478 points, while Messi finished fifth with 280 points.
World Cup winners Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Raphael Varane came third, fourth and seventh with 414, 347 and 121 points respectively.
The Egyptian Pharaoh Mohamed Salah came sixth with 188 points. Still, it was a great achievement for Salah to be among the 10 best players in the world.
Winning a major trophy with Liverpool will give Salah a big opportunity to capture the award in the future.
Barcelona's Messi won the Ballon five times. First in 2009, then three in a row -- 2010, 2011 and 2012. The final Ballon was presented to Messi in 2015.
Another of the greatest players of all time, Ronaldo won his first Ballon d'Or in 2008, then twice in a row in 2013 and 2014. He also bagged the award in 2016 and 2017.
Despite the decade in which all individual awards were dominated by Messi and Ronaldo, Modric, the Croatian midfielder, was able to win it all this year after his sparkling form at this summer's World Cup and his achievements with Real Madrid. Besides the Ballon d'Or, Modric secured the UEFA and FIFA Best Player awards.
This year, Modric won the Champions League for the third time in a row with Real Madrid. He also helped his national team reach the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow before losing to France. But Modric received the Golden Ball Award for the Best Player in the World Cup.
Modric has scored a total of 74 goals in 543 club appearances. For Croatia, he has netted 12 times in 102 matches. In 2015, the 33-year-old was named Croatian Player of the Year for the sixth time, a joint record held with Davor Suker.
Modric was born on 9 September 1985 in Zadar, a coastal region of what was previously Yugoslavia, now Croatia.
The promising talent grew up in a small village called Modrici. It was common for a child to be named after his village.
Both his parents worked in textiles during a period of poverty, war and religious genocide.
Modric has talked about his childhood. “My childhood years were very painful. I was only five years old when the Croatian war of independence broke out. I was living in a war zone and lost my grandfather who was murdered in the war.”
“We were forced to live in a refugee camp, passing the time by kicking a paper ball even with danger always lurking nearby, including grenades, bombs and murders. As the war ended, I started playing football. My favourite club Hadjuk FC rejected me, saying I was too small.”
“I doubted myself in many situations but my father said ‘you can make it son, just believe.' Although he supported me to be a football player, he didn't have the money to buy me football boots. Now I can say, the war made me stronger,” Modric, the war child who is now among the finest players of all time, said.
The votes were decided by a jury of journalists representing a variety of footballing nations. They voted for the players they deem worthy of first, second and third place. The top-ranking player of each journalist's selection received six points, the second-ranking player four points, then three, two and one, going down from the rest of their top five picks.

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