Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s duopoly of the Ballon d’Or award was always going to end one day.
The superstar forwards, who had won the prestigious individual accolade in every year since 2008, were dethroned this year by Luka Modric.
The Croatian midfielder has enjoyed a fine calendar year - winning the Champions League with Real Madrid before inspiring his national team to the World Cup final - and, in the eyes of some of the world’s leading football journalists, has been the best player on the planet over the course of 2018.
Modric picked up 753 points, which left him well ahead of second-placed Ronaldo (476 points) and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann (414 points).
Paris Saint-Germain starlet Kylian Mbappe finished fourth with 347 points, while Messi came fifth but only managed to pick up 280 points.
This was the first time since 2006 that Messi, regarded by many football fans as the greatest player of all time, had finished outside the top three.
He came fifth despite the fact he won a record fifth Golden Shoe for finishing as Europe’s leading scorer last season with 34 goals, inspiring Barça to glory in La Liga and the Copa del Rey in the process.
Barça boss Ernesto Valverde has congratulated Modric for winning the Ballon d’Or but insists Messi being in fifth place is “absurd”.
"I will not get into discussing the inconsistencies of the prize,” he added.
Meanwhile, one Messi fan has reacted to Modric’s Ballon d’Or win by uploading a video titled: ‘Lionel Messi Destroying Luka Modric | HD’.
Watch it here...
Or watch the original here on YouTube...
Needless to say, it shows numerous examples from down the years of Messi humiliating the current Ballon d’Or holder when they’ve gone head-to-head.
While clearly an extremely biased video - the YouTuber responsible for the video is named ‘MessiTheBoss’ - it shows that the Argentina international has made light work of ghosting past the Croatian whenever they’ve met.
In fairness to Modric, though, Messi has made just about every top player on the planet look silly over the past 10-15 years.
Considering his ability - and the fact he continues to produce match-winning performances on a weekly basis - it feels almost perverse that Messi finished fifth in the voting for this year’s Ballon d’Or award.
If the Ballon d’Or was awarded on talent alone, Messi would have far more than five in his trophy cabinet, that’s for sure.