Croatian midfielder, Luka Modric is now the best player in the world after winning the Ballon d’Or.
Speaking with the organisers of the award, he revealed how pleased he is that a normal person has been able to win the prize and follow in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
“There’s a saying that the best things in life don’t come easily and I believe that,” he said in an interview with France Football, the magazine behind the Ballon d’Or.
“My life has been based on fighting and on achieving objectives through hard work.
“It hasn’t been easy, but I have won it.
“History will say that a Croatian player, representing his small country, won the Ballon d’Or after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who are players at another level.
“Nobody has the right to compare themselves to them.
“They are the best in the history of this sport.
“To come after them is incredible, although I don’t think for one second that it’s over for them.
“I consider myself a normal person and act that way, while I see that people see me as such.
“They see me as a humble person.
“I am happy that someone normal is able to win the Ballon d’Or.”
Asked where he would put the prize, he said he’d sleep next to it at first.
“It’ll go in my bedroom for the first few days, next to the bed,” he said.
“That way, every time I wake up I’ll be able to say that it’s not a dream and that’s it’s really there.
“Then I’ll look for a nice place to put it.
“I have other trophies, but this one will go in a special place.”
Modric also spoke in the interview about comments from Zinedine Zidane, a former Ballon d’Or winner who believed the midfielder could also claim it.
“There wasn’t a specific moment when I thought I could win it,” Modric revealed.
“I started to believe when I saw the trophies I’d won this year and that I was on the 30-man shortlist.
“But there’s one thing I’ll never forget.
“When Zidane arrived to become Real Madrid coach in January of 2016, he called me to his office one day after training and explained what he saw in me as a player and what he expected of me.
“He told me I was an important player for him.
“Above all, he told me that he saw me as a player who could win the Ballon d’Or.
“When someone like Zidane, with his personality and background, says this then it boosts your confidence.
“I admire and respect him a lot as a player.
“He wanted me to express myself more on the pitch.
“He needed me to be a key piece in the team at a time when we played truly good football.
“These words from Zidane helped me to go further in my play, even if I didn’t dare to believe these words.”
Another legendary player who Modric spoke of was Johan Cruyff.
“It’s an immense honour for them to compare me to him,” he said.
“He was an incredible player and a great coach.
“I wore the No.14 at Tottenham in honour of him, and because the No.10 wasn’t available.”
Finally, he opened up a little on his personal life and on what he does at home.
“We watch movies at home, I listen to reggaeton and, above all, to traditional Croatian music and I go to restaurants,” he said.
“I have this ability to eat everything without getting fat, it’s a genetic thing.
“I like to open a bottle of wine with my wife every now and then.
“We have Croatian, Italian, Spanish and French wines.
“I have little naps and do what all top-level sportspeople need to do.
“I eat well and prepare well and sleep well.
“I work a lot on myself and try to recover well after matches.
“My wife helps me a lot at home with the children.
“I have to explain to the two older ones that rest is part of my job.”
The complete interview with the new Ballon d’Or winner is published in the magazine dedicated to his success.