Surprises at the FIFA FOOTBALL Gala as Luca Modríc Leads Coveted Awards  

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Real Madrid’s Croatian midfielder pauses for a photo after winning the Fifa Best Player of the Year in London yesterday. PHOTO/Courtesy 

BY PAUL OMBATI

There were surprises at the Fifa Football Awards as Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi missed out on the FiFA Awards winners for the first time in a decade. 

Real Madrid’s superstar Luca Modric beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah to win the men’s FIFA Best player of the year.

Ronaldo and Messi have won the coveted trophy five times each.

With Messi and Ronaldo all failing to go beyond the last 16 of the World Cup held in Russia three months ago, it meant the Croatian captain would lift the Fifa Award having inspired the tinny country to the finals despite falling 4-2 to France apart from winning the Champions League three consecutive seasons with Real Madrid.

The 33-year old shocked the world when he won the tournament’s Best Players Award despite falling 4-2 to France in the final match.

“It was an unbelievable season, the best season in my life,” said Modric at the gala last night.

 

Being a sixth consecutive top-scorer in the Champions League with 15 goals each season and scoring four times at the World Cup, including a hat-trick against Spain in an entertaining 3-3 draw was not enough tip Cristiano Ronaldo for the award.

 

His fate at the big stage must have been cealed by Portugal’s last 16 exit to Uruguay in Russia and failing to hit the back of the net in the semi-finals against Bayern Munich or final of the Champions League against Liverpool.

Again for the first time in a decade, Ronaldo and Messi failed to attend the ceremony which was held in London due to urgent responsibilities at their respective clubs.

 

It was first time in 12 years that Messi was not among the finalists.

 

Mohammed Salah took the third place after a brilliant season that saw him net 44 times in his debut season with Liverpool that carried the Reds to the Champions League final.

 

However, a shoulder injury suffered early on in the final undermined Salah’s chance to help Liverpool lift the Champions League as well as weaken his condition for the Egyptian side at World Cup.

 

The good news is that the left-footed forward won the Puskas award yesterday  for best goal for his strike against Everton in the Merseyside derby last December.

 

Other winners at the gala include French national team coach Didier Deschamps for winning the World Cup, Thibaut Courtois (best goalkeeper award) for helping Belgium reach the World Cup semi-finals as well as the FA Cup with Chelsea before a summer move to Madrid and Brazil’s Marta (best women’s player) for a record sixth time for her role in winning the Copa America to beat out Lyon duo Ada Hegerberg and Dzsenifer Marozsan.

 

Lyon boss Reynald Pedros won the best women’s coach.

(Additional report courtesy of Mail & Guardian)

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