Luka Modric was named Best Fifa Footballer of the Year in a London ceremony.
The Croatian beat Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to become the first player other than Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to win since Kaka in 2007.
Though Modric was keen to avoid any debate over former teammate Ronaldo, he did say both his and Messi’s absence from the ceremony was noted. “I don’t want to enter into the debate of whether it is deserved or not, I just want to thank all the people that voted for me for their support.
“Everyone has their own reasons. Obviously I would have liked them to be here but they aren’t.”
He scored in Croatia’s opening two matches of the group stages and also set up one goal.
Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic paid tribute to his captain after the result was announced, saying the midfielder is like “my assistant in the field”.
“Luka Modric is the captain of my team, he’s the best player in my team and in the world, and he deserves this award,” said Dalic.
After receiving the award, Modric said he was “honoured” and thankful to all the coaches he has worked with for getting him to this stage.
“This award is not just mine. It is my team-mates from Real Madrid and Croatia. Without my coaches, I would not have won this and without my family, I would not be the player I am today,” said Modric.