Captain Luka Modric from Croatia was named Balkan Athlete of the Year on Thursday, becoming only the second football player to win the prize after Bulgaria’s former European footballer of the Year Hristo Stoichkov in 1994.
Ballon d’Or winner Modric won the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup with his Spanish club Real Madrid and helped Croatia reach the final of the World Cup in Russia. He was received the Golden Ball Award of the World Cup.
The 33-year – old, who collected 75 points in the 46th poll conducted by the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA), beat Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, who actually finished 5 times in a row from 2011 to 2015 in the annual poll.
Another tennis player, Simona Halep from Romania, who completed the year as women’s world number one for the second consecutive season, came third in the poll taken by state news agencies in nine Balkan countries.