Luka Modric is pleased to be “finally recognised”, with the Real Madrid star having toppled Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to prove that “football is not just goals, goals, goals”.
The Croatia international has enjoyed a stunning year in which he has climbed to the very top of the global game.
A World Cup final appearance with his country has been complemented by prestigious prizes such as the FIFA Best Award and the 2018 Ballon d’Or as well as finishing top of the pile in the annual Goal 50 countdown.
Modric ended the duopoly of Messi and Ronaldo to claim those honours, with his creative qualities winning out over the prolific strike rates of his rivals.
The 33-year-old midfielder is delighted to see alternative skill sets being acknowledged, telling GQ: "It makes me happy that people have finally recognised everything I've achieved in my sports career.
"I've had to win many things to make it happen and only then others have realised that football is not just goals, goals and goals."
It has not been an easy journey for Modric to this point, with the talented playmaker having had to scrap for all that he has achieved.
He added: "I've been surrounded by doubts since my childhood.
"Because of my physique, because of my height...
"Some thought those elements were important to succeed in life and in football, but I never doubted myself."
Modric is now receiving the acclaim he undoubtedly deserves, with an important role at Real Madrid allowing him to pursue more major honours and cement a standing among the greats.
"Thanks to that trust and that faith in myself, I came to the best club in the world," he added.
"At the beginning many people didn't believe in me either, it's part of my life, always surrounded by doubts, always hearing that no I won't reach the top.
"All the recognition, such as the FIFA World Player or the Ballon d'Or, are worth much more when you are aware that nobody has given you anything.
"Nothing has been given to me by anyone, I've had to work for it."
That hard work has been richly rewarded, and there is the promise of even more to come from a man currently chasing down a third successive Club World Cup crown to sit alongside his enviable haul of other awards.