Croatia and Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric has been named 2018 Balkan Athlete of the year on Thursday, becoming only the second soccer player to scoop the prize after Bulgaria’s former European Footballer of the Year Hristo Stoichkov in 1994.

He was awarded the tournament’s Golden Ball Award.

The 33-year-old, who received 75 points in the 46th poll, organised by Bulgarian News Agency,
Men’s tennis world number one Novak Djokovic of Serbia was second in the Balkan poll, and the Women’s number one, Romania’s Simona Halep, was third.

Modric won the Champions League with Real Madrid and then led Croatia to the World Cup final in July, where the midfielder was voted player of the tournament.

He also won the prestigious Ballon d’Or for the first time earlier in December.

Djokovic increased his haul of Grand Slam titles to 14 with wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year, and Halep won the French Open to claim her first career Grand Slam title.

The poll is organised by the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) and included the national news agencies of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey.

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