The dominance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ballon d’Or has finally ended, with Luka Modric taking home France Football’s 2018 prize.
Starting in 2008, great rivals Messi and Ronaldo had combined to account for the honour in 10 consecutive years. Yet Modric’s role in guiding Croatia to the World Cup final and Real Madrid to Champions League glory saw him rewarded, breaking up the monopoly that began after Kaka’s sole win. Much has changed since AC Milan’s Brazilian midfield star was victorious… KAKA’S YEAR Champions League triumphs have tended to heavily influence voters for this award and Kaka’s role in the 2006-07 final made him the obvious candidate later that year. The midfielder played a role in both goals as Milan defeated Liverpool 2-1, avenging their penalty shoot-out defeat from two years previously. Kaka thrived in the absence of departed team-mate Andriy Shevchenko and would collect the FIFA World Player of the Year and FIFPro World Player of the Year awards to go with the Ballon d’Or in a year that ended with Milan winning the Club World Cup. WHAT NEXT? Kaka had the world at his feet as he dismantled Manchester United and then Liverpool, but Madrid never really saw the best of the Brazil international after he became the latest ‘Galacticos’ signing two years later. A short stop back at Milan followed, before an ageing Kaka played out his career with Sao Paulo and Orlando City. Milan have not added to their seven European titles since 2007, winning Serie A just once in that time. THE HITS Alicia Keys’ “No One” moved to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 the day before Kaka’s triumph, staying at the summit until the end of the year. She has not been back to number one since and, until now, no-one could get in the way of Messi and Ronaldo. THE BOX OFFICE Disney’s “Enchanted” was the highest grossing film in the United States that week in 2007 and leading actress Amy Adams has fared rather better than Kaka in the intervening years, even if she is yet to claim an Academy Award, Hollywood’s own Ballon d’Or. In the United Kingdom, the instantly forgettable Fred Claus reigned for a sole week. ELSEWHERE IN SPORT Floyd Mayweather Jr and Ricky Hatton put their unbeaten records on the line in a WBC welterweight bout in December 2007, with the American triumphing with a 10th-round knockout. Mayweather is still yet to lose and continues writing headlines 11 years later with talk of a fight against UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov. Shortly before welcoming in 2008, the New England Patriots became the second NFL team – after the 1972 Miami Dolphins – to win all their regular season games. They were beaten at the Super Bowl, however. WORLD EVENTS Many may be dissatisfied with world politics in 2018, but things were far from rosy 11 years ago. The Iraq War rumbled on, the United States urged Moscow to investigate alleged ballot fraud in a Russian parliamentary election and former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto was killed by a suicide gunman. Vladimir Putin was Time magazine’s Person of the Year.