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Luka Modric named best male player at Fifa awards

LONDON-Luka Modric was named the world’s best male player at the Best Fifa Football Awards in London on Monday night.

The Real Madrid midfielder, 33, beat former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, now with Juventus, and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah to the award.

Modric won his third Champions League title in a row in May and guided Croatia to their first World Cup final in July.

Brazil and Orlando Pride forward Marta won the best female player award.

France’s Didier Deschamps – whose side beat Modric’s Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup final – was named best men’s coach.

Salah received the Puskas award for the best goal, for his effort against Everton in the Premier League at Anfield last December.

Peru’s supporters won the Fifa Fan Award after many thousands of them flew to Russia in support of their nation – playing at the finals for the first time since 1982. This accolade was voted for solely by supporters.

Modric ended Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s dominance of the best individual accolades in world football, which had stretched back to 2007, when Kaka won the Ballon d’Or.

Modric made 56 appearances for club and country as he won the Champions League and reached the World Cup final – beating England in the semi-final – in what he admitted before the ceremony was his “best season ever”.

Former England international Chris Waddle, working as a BBC Radio 5 live pundit, indentified Modric as the type of player that Gareth Southgate’s men were missing in that semi-final because of his ability to single-handedly influence games with his understanding and distribution.

Incidentally, England manager Southgate voted for Modric.

The former Tottenham midfielder won the Golden Ball award for the best player in the World Cup after their final defeat by France.

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 talisman 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.

Brazil and Orlando Pride forward Marta won the award for the best female player for the sixth time.

Her first recognition from Fifa for being the best female player in the world came in 2006.

She led Brazil to the Copa America Femenina title in April, as they won all seven matches – although she only scored one of their 31 goals.

Marta scored 13 goals and set up six more as Orlando Pride reached the NWSL play-off semi-finals in the United States – earning herself a place in the league’s team of the year.

“This means so much, but it is not only about Marta, it is about my team-mates and women’s football,” said the 32-year-old.

“Most importantly, it is good to see women’s soccer grow each year. If I keep doing well and that can help off the field too, then I am happy.” BBC

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