Luka Modric has echoed Lionel Messi with the devastating scene of receiving the Golden Ball award after losing the World Cup final.
The Croatian superstar was unable to guide his nation to glory as France won 4-2 in Moscow but he was voted the tournament’s best player after sterling performances in the midfield.
The 32-year-old finished ahead of Belgium’s Eden Hazard and French champion Antoine Griezmann in the votes as the presentation channeled World Cups past.
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Modric was forced to accept the trophy alongside Kylian Mbappe, the French 19-year-old who was named best young player at the World Cup, and the Croatian looked as glum as Messi following the 2014 final.
The Argentine won his award after Germany won 1-0 in Rio de Janeiro with a goal just seven minutes from the end of the extra time.
With his best chance at emulating Diego Maradone gone, Messi wanted none of the formalities – and Modric was no different despite having half an hour to come to terms with the defeat after France effectively secured the title with goals in the 59th and 65th minutes.
“Obviously I liked the recognition and thanks to those who chose me, but clearly I would have preferred to have won the World Cup,” Modric said.
“It wasn’t to be and now we will rest and in the coming days celebrate this because it is still a huge thing for Croatia, but right now the feeling is bittersweet.
“We are proud of what we have done, but a bit sad at losing the final.”
The FIFA panel’s decision to hand the 2018 award to the Croatian means it has now been 24 years since a World Cup winner also went home with the Golden Ball.
Five of the past six individuals have fallen at the final hurdle.
Six straight Golden Ball winners have NOT won the #WorldCup
2018 🇭🇷 Luka Modric (2nd place)
2014 🇦🇷 Lionel Messi (2nd)
2010 🇺🇾 Diego Forlán (4th)
2006 🇫🇷 Zinedine Zidane (2nd)
2002 🇩🇪 Oliver Kahn (2nd)
1998 🇧🇷 Ronaldo (2nd)
1994 🇧🇷 Romário (champion)
— Paul Carr (@PaulCarrTM) July 15, 2018
In a fitting conclusion to the 2018 World Cup, the four semi-finalists – France, Croatia, Belgium and England – split the major awards.
Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois took home the Golden Glove, while England skipper Harry Kane’s six goals landed him the Golden Boot.
Five players finished behind Kane on four goals, including the French duo Griezmann and Mbappe.
Mbappe became the first teenager since Pele in 1958 to score in a World Cup final – and the Brazilian legend took notice.
If Kylian keeps equalling my records like this I may have to dust my boots off again… // Se o @KMbappe continuar a igualar os meus records assim, eu vou ter que tirar a poeira das minhas chuteiras novamente…#WorldCupFinal https://t.co/GYWfMxPn7p
— Pelé (@Pele) July 15, 2018
“Pele has marked history and I’m just here trying to forge my own path,” the 19-year-old told reporters.
“I’m just trying to play the way I always did. Scoring and beating records is always good, but I’ve always worked towards this goal. I must continue, I have the ambition to go further, wherever my potential takes me.
“Winning a World Cup this young opens you lots of doors.”
Mbappe never doubted France’s chances in Russia, claiming their self-belief was key to victory.
“You always have to believe. In this type of competition, it’s not the most handsome that wins, but the one who believe the most,” he said.
“And our belief was as solid as iron. We had to show it even if it seemed arrogant at first.
“But we are all on different paths. Take Adil Rami for example, he worked all his life towards this goal, but me, I’m just starting. I have a whole history to write.”
Conversation predictably turned to a possible Ballon d’Or win, but Mbappe remained evasive.
“It’s for certain that the World Cup works in my favour, but I’m not thinking about that right now,” he said.