Luka Modric has spoken of his delight after winning the 2018 Goal 50 – awarded to the world's best player of the last 12 months – and says that Real Madrid are gunning for a fourth straight Champions League trophy, despite their poor start to the season.
The Croatian metronome enjoyed the best year of his brilliant career in 2018, lifting the Champions League with his club and leading his country to the final of the World Cup in Russia.
This saw him pick up a host of individual prizes, including the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, The Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2018 and UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award.
Modric has now added the Goal 50 trophy to his growing collection of individual honours after finishing above last year’s winner, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, who finished second and third, respectively.
In doing so, Modric ended Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s recent duopoly of the prize, with the Portuguese and the Argentine having claimed every Goal 50 trophy since Wesley Sneijder triumphed way back in 2010.
"I am very happy to receive this award,” Modric told Goal .
“I would like to thank everyone who voted for me. It is an honour to receive it, and to follow in the footsteps of these two great players.
“Winning after these two makes me very happy. It is an honour for me.”
Despite all this personal glory, Modric’s Real Madrid have endured a difficult start to the 2018-19 season, following the summer sale of Ronaldo to Juventus.
They find themselves sixth in La Liga, four points behind leaders Barcelona, having been humiliated 5-1 by their rivals in last month's Clasico.
That result saw coach Julen Lopetegui sacked just months after succeeding Zinedine Zidane but Modric is confident that the team’s fortunes can be turned around under current caretaker boss Santiago Solari, who has won his first four games in all competitions.
"What we want is to improve because we have not started the season well,” Modric confessed.
“However, what is important is how we are going to finish. We are going to work hard to improve. What we want is to achieve the challenges that this team always face.
“I hope to win some titles that we have ahead of us, and above all to improve our game.
“And with the new coach, I'm sure we're going to improve and have a good season.”
A good season would surely entail winning yet another Champions League. Madrid have lifted the last three editions of club football’s biggest trophy – and four of the last five – and Modric believes that the Blancos can retain their title.
"Nothing is impossible in football,” the 33-year-old noted.
“Especially for Real Madrid, as what we have done the last three seasons is something unimaginable, but we have achieved it.
“Why can’t we go for the fourth one? We are going to give everything.
“We have to be humble, work hard and respect others because there are great teams and every year it is more and more difficult to win this cup.
“But, as I told you, we will try everything. We have shown many times that nothing is impossible for this team."
The Goal 50 is an annual award that both recognises and ranks the world's 50 best footballers of the preceding 12 months.
Chief editors and correspondents from Goal's 42 editions around the world all cast their votes, with candidates judged on their level of consistency over the previous year of action, their big-game performances, footballing legacy and the success of their teams at both club and international level.