The paradigm of power in world football has well and truly shifted. Step aside glamour boys, dribblers and goal scorers, Luka Modric has showered in a fresh, new era – that of hardworking game-makers.
Modric's victory becomes laudable because he is the first man in 11 years to see off the seemingly immovable gauntlet laid down by the pair of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 2017-18 season had been ground-breaking for Modric as he helped his club Real Madrid to a third successive Champions League victory before leading his country Croatia, to an unlikely runners-up finish in the FIFA World Cup 2018. But people have done similar things before and yet fallen to the might of Messi and Ronaldo – Wesley Sneijder in 2009-10 won the treble and finished runners-up in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The Ballon d'Or has evaded many great players over the years including the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Paul Scholes and Andrea Pirlo. The award was, in fact, quietly mocked at for being a popularity award reserved only for the glamorous attackers and not the workmanlike midfielders.
But the 2018 edition brought a much-needed refreshment to the ceremony as Modric's victory sends out a signal of hope to the hardworking breed of footballers. It tells them that there is recognition for dictating the pace of the game, doing the dirty work and controlling the game.
Modric, himself, echoed this sentiment when he spoke to BBC Sport.
"Maybe in the past, there are some players who could have won the Ballon d'Or like Xavi, Andres Iniesta or [Wesley] Sneijder but people finally now are looking at someone else," he said.
"This award is for all the players who probably deserved to win it and didn't. It was a really special year for me.
"It is difficult to express my emotion and how I feel in words. It is something unique for me. It was very special."
Modric's victory, thus, gives hope that the wise men of football do not just look at the statistics but analyse the game and understand that in football, as in life, the unquantifiable is perhaps as important as the quantifiable.
Modric described the men he saw off – Messi and Ronaldo – as "phenomenal players", adding: "To win means I did something really special on the pitch this year, that's why 2017-18 was the year for me."
Here Are The Top 10
1. Luka Modric (Real Madrid and Croatia)
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/Juventus and Portugal)
3. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid and France)
4. Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain and France)
5. Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina)
6. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt)
7. Raphael Varane (Real Madrid and France)
8. Eden Hazard (Chelsea and Belgium)
9. Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City and Belgium)
10. Harry Kane (Tottenham and England)