How Luka Modric conquered the football world in 2018

Modric won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid in May, took the Golden Ball at the World Cup in July, was named Europe’s best player in August, won the FIFA world’s best player award in Septemb

Croatian midfielder Luka Modric capped a ‘golden’ year, winning the Ballon d’Or award on Monday in Monaco, France.

Modric has arguably had the best year of his career, at least as far as accolades are concerned;

Modric won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid in May, took the Golden Ball at the World Cup in July and was named Europe’s best player of the year by UEFA in August.

The 33-year-old Croatian also won the FIFA award that recognises the world’s best player, before taking home the prestigious Ballon d’Or award, which had in the past 10 years been shared by Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

In this article, we look back at the defining moments of 2018 that defined Modric’s rise to the position of world’s best football year.

May: Modric wins third straight Champions League

In May this year, Spanish club side, Real Madrid defeated Liverpool to win a third consecutive Champions League title.

The unmatched feat etched the club and the players who had dominated Europe for three years in the pages of history. Real Madrid is Europe’s most successful club with 13 titles.

Modric, was an integral part of the team that won the Champions League for Real Madrid in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

July: Modric wins Golden Ball at World Cup

Modric was named the tournament’s best player and given the Golden Ball as a reward for leading the Croatian team to the final of the World Cup for the first time.

Modric beat Belgium’s Eden Hazard and France’s Antoine Griezmann to the top player accolade.

Croatia won all group games, including a famous win over Messi’s Argentina, in which Modric scored a sensational goal. They then overcame Denmark, hosts Russia and England on the way to the final.

While Croatia lost the final (2-4) to France, Modric had made such an impression for his emhatic workrate and the sheer will of the Croatian team to go all the way.

READ MORE: Croatia’s ‘Golden Generation’ has delivered

August: Europe’s Best Player

In August, Modric beat off competition from Ronaldo and Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah, to win the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for 2017/2018.

He was also named the UEFA Champions League Midfielder of the Season.

“Always available to receive the ball, he is incredibly important to how the champions want to play,” said the UEFA Technical Observers when selecting Modrić in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season.

‘‘Though the 32-year-old is neither a prolific goalscorer nor an outright defensive shield, his dynamism and quality in possession set him apart.’‘

September: Modric is World’s Best – FIFA

In September, Ronaldo, Salah and Modric were up against each other agin, this time for the FIFA award for the best footballer of the year.

FIFA highlighted Modric’s wins with Real Madrid including the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Spanish Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, in addition to Russia’s ‘best player of the tournament’ performances.

READ MORE: Modric beats Salah, Ronaldo to Best FIFA Men’s Player 2018

December: Modric is world’s best player – Ballon d’Or

On Monday this week, Modric crowned a fantastic 2018, breaking the duopoly of Ronaldo and Messi at the Ballon d’Or awards.

The award, voted for by journalists and organized by French magazine France Football, has been dominated by Barcelona’s Messi and Ronaldo, who have won all ten awards (five apiece) since Brazillian Kaka won in 2007 while playing for AC Milan.

“It’s a unique feeling. I’m happy proud and honored, I have a lot of emotions right now, it’s hard to describe in words,” said Modric, wearing a tuxedo as he collected the award.

‘4The Ballon d’Or was more than a dream. I simply cannot believe it. For all my career, I have tried to work hard and have persistence. In the tough moments, you have to show your courage and I always said the best things do not come easy. To achieve all this, it has not been easy.’‘

Modric got 753 points followed by Ronaldo on 476, Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann with 414 and Paris St-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe was fourth with 347, ahead of Messi on 280.

ALSO READ: Norway’s Hegerberg wins inaugural Ballon d’Or award celebrating women’s football

Testimonies about Modric

Modric started his professional football career at Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb in 2001, before moving to England in 2008. He played for Tottenham Hotspur for four seasons before moving to Real Madrid in 2012.

Over the years, he has earned the respect and trust of his peers.

“He is a player who has a very different talent, he improves anyone who is around him. It shows when he is not on the field – Madrid are a different team without Luka,” said Croatia team-mate Ivan Rakitić.

“Even if we leave trophies aside, the way he plays and the way he dominates for Real Madrid is impressive,” former Madrid and Croatia midfielder Robert Prosinečki.

“It’s not easy to stop Modrić because he’s such a clever player – he can read the game so well and can play in many different areas,” former Madrid manager José Mourinho.

2018 Sports Review [2]: Africa tests authority of sports governing bodies

In this article, we continue to review the highs, lows and notable sports takeaways over this year.

Beyond football, Africa’s athletes had such an impressive year, notably Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who ran the fastest marathon in history, in September, and was eventually named Male Athlete of the Year by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

In this article, we continue to review the highs, lows and notable sports takeaways over this year.

FIFA clashes with African nations

Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone violated FIFA’s rules of non-interference by political authorities, earning the wrath of the global football governing body.

Ghana and Nigeria settled their differences with FIFA, agreeing to work with the organisation to fight corruption and resolve leadership disputes respectively.

READ MORE: FIFA imposes its will on Nigeria, Ghana over football management disputes

Sierra Leone, on the other hand, were banned by FIFA in October, after they defied calls to reinstate the federation’s president Isha Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara.

The federation officials are accused of corruption by government officials and were removed from their positions, a move that FIFA protested.

FIFA who do not tolerate interference by governments in the respective country football federations are conducting investigations into allegations of match-fixing in Sierra Leone and Ghana.

Ghana Football boss exposed, banned

In October this year, FIFA handed former Ghana Football Association president Kwesi Nyantakyi a life ban, the climax of a fall from grace for a man who was one of the most powerful football officials on the continent.

Nyantakyi, a former member of FIFA’s General Council, was found guilty after being filmed by an investigative journalist in a hotel room appearing to take a $65,000 bribe from a supposed businessman seeking to sponsor the Ghanaian football league.

ALSO READ: Malawi football chief Nyamilandu elected to FIFA council

IAAF vs Caster Semenya

One of the biggest athletics stories on the continent this year was the introduction of new regulations for female classification by IAAF.

The regulations,which regulate women who naturally produce testosterone levels above five nanomoles per litre of blood, were protested by South Africa and its star athlete Caster Semenya.

READ MORE: IAAF refuses to soften stance against Semenya

Harnessing basketball talent in Africa

The National Basketball Association’s (NBA) relationship with the African continent continues to grow, and was in September, cemented by an endorsement from Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame in his capacity as African Union chairman.

The NBA, which features several players from the African continent, organises several boot camps to identify talent and has an off-season initiative where it organises a show match between Team Africa and the rest of the world.

Fashionable African teams

Nigeria’s Super Eagles grabbed all the headlines ahead of the World Cup, when their new jersey was voted the ‘most beautiful’ at the tournament in a Sky sports poll.

In August, South African club side, Kaizer Chiefs also made fashion headlines when sports magazine FourFourTwo said they have the best kit of the 2018/19 season.

The magazine which ranked the top 20 kits for the new season, called the new Kaizer Chiefs outfits ‘delightful’.

ALSO READ: Winners, losers and questions facing African football in 2018

Uncertainty hangs over AFCON 2019

More than a week after Cameroon was dismissed as host country for AFCON 2019, CAF is yet to find a replacement

On Football Planet this week, more than a week after Cameroon was dismissed as host country for AFCON 2019, CAF is yet to find a replacement.

Morocco, seen by many as the most feasible country to host the competition, now six months away, has not officially declared interest.

We also report on the 2019 Women’s World Cup where Africa’s representatives were drawn against tough opponents.

The Beach Soccer Nations Cup is underway in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Will Senegal defend their crown?

These and more on this edition of Football Planet with Johnson Wahany Sambou .

2018 Sports Review [1]: Winners, losers and questions facing African football

In some instances, like the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the entire Africa fell short, but in some brilliant moments like Eliud Kipchoge’s record-breaking run at the Berlin Marathon, the continent’s spor

It was an eventful year in the world of sport for Africa, as athletes in different disciplines reached for greatness on the national, continental and global stage.

In some instances, like the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the entire Africa fell short, but in some brilliant moments like Eliud Kipchoge’s record-breaking run at the Berlin Marathon, the continent’s sports prowess shone brightest.

In this article, we’ll review the highs, lows and notable sports takeaways over this year.

Salah, Salah, Salah

Egypt and Liverpool forward took the English Premier League by storm in the 2017/2018 season, breaking the record for goals scored and winning the best player accolades.

He was crowned African Player of the Year by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in January, and was nominated for the FIFA Best player, UEFA best player and the prestigious Ballon d’Or.

Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech was named the best footballer in the Dutch League in September, becoming the third Moroccan to win the top accolade.

Morocco wins CHAN 2018 and more

Morocco in January hosted and won the Championship of African Nations (CHAN 2018), defeating Nigeria’s Super Eagles (4-0).

Moroccan club sides dominated football on the continent as Wydad Casablanca defeated Congolese side TP Mazembe to win the Super Cup in February.

Another Moroccan side, Raja Casablanca lifted the African Confederations Cup this month, after beating Congo’s AS Vital (4-3) over a two-legged final.

Tunisia’s Esperance were crowned champions of CAF’s Champions League last month after beating Egypt’s Al Ahly (4-3) in the two-legged final.

READ MORE: North African sides dominate football in 2018

Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup was unsuccessful, as it lost out to a joint bid by the United States, Mexico and Canada. The North African is however determines to host the world’s biggest football tournament as it prepares a bid for the 2030 World Cup.

READ MORE: Spain, Morocco discuss joint Africa-Europe bid for 2030 FIFA World Cup

Africa’s miserable World Cup

Speaking of the World Cup, African sides put in a dismal showing at the tournament in Russia, as all five national sides failed to go past the group stages.

Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Nigeria were all eliminated, leaving the continent asking questions and waiting for yet another opportunity to take a shot at bringing the coveted trophy to Africa.

READ MORE: Africa’s disastrous performance at the World Cup in Russia

Hanging up the boots

Following the World Cup that ended in July, Egypt’s veteran goalkeeper El-Hadary (45) retired from international football.

Nigeria’s midfielder Victor Moses, also shocked his fans when he announced his retirement in August. The 27-year-old explained that he needed to focus on his club career at Chelsea.

Chelsea and Ivorian legend, Didier Drogba hang up his boots last month, after an illustrious 20-year career that saw him lift four Premier League titles and the 2012 Champions League.

READ MORE: Essien, Adebayor hail Drogba’s impact on African football

Celebrating Women’s football at AWCON 2018

Nigeria’s Super Falcons won their ninth African Women’s Cup of Nations title last month in Accra, Ghana, after winning a post-match penalty shootout against South Africa’s Banyana Banyana.

The Nigerians, South Africans and Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses will represent Africa at the World Cup in France next year.

READ MORE: Nigeria, SA, Cameroon draw tough groups at 2019 FIFA Women’s WC

CAF’s AFCON 2019 headache

While at least 13 nations have already qualified for the Africa Nations Cup (AFCON 2019), CAF is yet to find a host for the tournament to be held in June next year.

CAF re-opened bidding for hosting rights after it stripped Cameroon of the opportunity, citing infrastructural delays and insecurity.

READ MORE: Is it time for CAF to revise process of awarding AFCON hosting rights? Madagascar and Mauritania will be playing at Africa’s biggest tournament for the first time.

2019 FIFA Women's WC: Nigeria, SA, Cameroon in tough groups

A total of 52 matches will be played to determine the winner. Africa has usually struggled at previous tournaments.

The draw has been held for next years’ FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in France.

Africa’s representatives: the Super Falcons of Nigeria, South Africa’s Banyana Banyana and Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses have been drawn in groups considered to be tough.

The Super Falcons who earlier this month were crowned 2018 African champions were drawn in Group A along side host country, France, South Korea and Norway.

Africa’s second-best Banyana Banyana are drawn in group B with two times winner, Germany. China and Spain complete the teams in the group.

On the part of the Indomitable Lionesses, they have to deal with Canada, Netherlands and New Zealand in group E.

Analysts hold that across the board it is a pretty mouthwatering draw which would make for interesting display when the games kick off in Paris and other French cities.

A total of 52 matches will be played to determine the winner. Africa has usually struggled at previous tournaments.

Earlier this year, Africa’s representatives at the main World Cup in Russia, failed to achieve qualification past the group stages. Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal were all kicked out in the group stages.

France went on to win the competition beating Croatia in the final. The composition of the French team, gave Africa something to celebrate, given that it was dominated by players with Africa roots.

Congo sports ministry denies reports of bid to host AFCON 2019

Hugues Ngouélondélé said that the nation will not be able to organise the continental tournament barely six months to commencement.

Congolese Sports ministry has denied reports that the country has bid to play host to the 2019 Africa cup of nations.

On Friday, the second vice president of the Confederation of African Football, Constant Omari told RFI International that the Central African nation has expressed interest in hosting the tournament.

But speaking on the same platform on Saturday, the Congolese Minister of Sports and Physical Education denied any such plans.

Hugues Ngouélondélé said that the nation will not be able to organise the continental tournament barely six months to commencement.

The Congolese sports minister also said it lacks the required infrastructure to host the event.

Cameroon was stripped off hosting rights by the CAF a fortnight ago citing delays in preparation.