Luka Modric named Balkan Athlete of the Year

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 15: Luka Modric of Real Madrid presents his Ballon d'Or Trophy to the crowd prior to the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 15, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Luka Modric became only the second footballer to ever win the Balkan Athlete of the Year prize on Thursday

The Croatian playmaker’s sensational year continues to earn him more individual awards after receiving 75 points in a voting poll by Bulgarian News Agency (BTA).

Modric saw off competition from Tennis’ world number one player in Serbian Novak Djokovic, who has previously won the prize five times.

Women’s tennis star Simona Halep, from Romania, came in third place with the poll having been conducted across nine Balkan countries.

The last time a footballer won the Balkan Athlete of the Year prize came in 1994 with Bulgaria’s Hristo Stoichkov.

On Wednesday, Modric also won the Croatian Sportsman of the Year 2018 in a poll conducted by Sportske Novosti.

“This is a huge honour,” said Modric at the ceremony.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 13: Jose Mourinho is seen in the stands prior to the Premier League match between Fulham FC and Everton FC at Craven Cottage on April 13, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Karanka says Mourinho would have been perfect for a Madrid return

The former Real Madrid assistant manager backed Jose Mourinho, saying he would have been just as good as Zinedine Zidane is.

“I’d like to congratulate all the other athletes on their successes and efforts.

“Family is the most important thing in the world to me because they’re always by my side, especially at the most difficult times, so my special thanks are reserved for them”.

The 33-year-old has now won the Ballon d’Or, FIFA’s The Best Award, UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, the World Cup Golden Ball and many others.