Due to his club, and national team performance at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where also received the Golden Ball, in August and September Modrić won the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award and The Best FIFA Men’s Player Award, while in December, he added the Ballon d’Or to his personal tally, marking the first time since 2007 that the award was not won by Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, which polarized the people involved in the sport into two camps about the credibility of the award. Furthermore, besides becoming the first Croatian player to win these awards, Modrić was the first player to win both the World Cup Golden Ball and the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award in the same year since Ronaldo in 1998, and the World Cup Golden Ball and the Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year Award after Romário in 1994. Additionally, he is the first player to win the awards from the former Yugoslavia territory, the first footballer from Eastern Europe to win a Ballon d’Or after Andriy Shevchenko in 2004, and the tenth player from Real Madrid to capture the trophy. Furthermore, winning the trophy triggered a clause in his contract, ensuring his stay at the club until 2021. He was also included in the FIFA FIFPro World XI for the fourth time, and won the IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker award.
After receiving the FIFA Men’s Player of the Year Award, Modrić stated it “shows that we all can become the best with hard work, dedication, and belief, all dreams can come true”. Modrić dedicated the Ballon d’Or to “all the players who probably deserved to win it and didn’t” in the past decade, including Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, and Wesley Sneijder among others.