LUKA MODRIC ended the 10-year domination of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as he was named the finest player in the world.
Croatian schemer Modric saw off the challenge of Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Mo Salah to scoop the Fifa Best Awards at a glittering ceremony in London’s Royal Festival Hall.
But the night was overshadowed by a Ronaldo-Messi no-show as the Portuguese superstar declined to make the trip from Turin to London and Barcelona’s Argentine pleaded family commitments.
Ronaldo and Messi had each won the award five times over the past decade and should have picked up their trophies for being in the team of the year.
Despite that seeming double strop, former Spurs midfielder Modric was rewarded for his part in steering Real Madrid to their unprecedented third consecutive Champions League and then guiding his homeland to the World Cup Final.
England boss Gareth Southgate conceded Modric had made the difference as Croatia came from behind to beat the Three Lions in their semi-final showdown.
Modric, 33, came out top of the votes from national coaches and captains, world media representatives and global fans.
It meant that the duo’s reign has been ended by an older man, rather than a passing of the torch to the new generation headed by Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
Asked if Ronaldo, who has a game for Juventus against Bologna on Wednesday, had been in contact in the build-up to the ceremony Modric smiled and said: “Not this time.
“It’s a great honour and beautiful feeling to stand here with this amazing trophy.
“This is not just my trophy. It’s for all my Real Madrid and Croatia team-mates and the coaches I have played for. Without them it would not be possible.”
The Croatian added: “It was an unbelievable season for me, the best of my life.
“In some ways I still don’t realise how good the year was for me, collectively and individually.
“I’m very proud of everything I achieved this year. It will be remembered, for sure, for ever.”
Former Chelsea stopper Thibaut Courtois edged out Spurs skipper Hugo LLoris and Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel for the best goalkeeper prize.
Courtois, though, did not feature in the world team of the year, with David De Gea the keeper in the vote of FifPro members.
Chelsea duo N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard were the other Premier League representatives. Hazard said: I’m just proud to be here.”
France’s Didier Deschamps beat Croatia’s Zlatko Dalic and former international team-mate Zinedine Zidane to be Coach of the Year.
Deschamps, who picked up his prize from former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, said: “The role of the coach is important but without the players we are nothing. My whole team and staff got me this trophy.”