The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2018. Nominees’ ways to the top
We often see them happy. They smile at us from the pitch, answer our questions in the interviews, thank us for the support. They motivate us, and their lives seem to be as perfect as they only could be. Who are they? They are the Best FIFA Men’s Player Award nominees — the greatest professional football players of 2018. You definitely know, admire, and sometimes even envy them. But has it ever occurred to you that their ‘flawless’ lives and careers are just the end of a very long journey to success?
No matter how strong and powerful they may seem to you. First and foremost, all these football stars are people. They all had their own disappointments, difficulties, and mistakes, which made their ways to success incredibly hard. However, they managed to overcome everything to become who they are now. Their stories are different, but they all are admirable and motivate us to move further, just like our soccer idols did. Here are the top 3 nominees for theBest FIFA Men’s Player award.
The 26-years old footballer’s story began in the small village of Nagrig, Egypt. He was born in a typical family with a middle-class income and was a common boy with only one peculiarity. He was crazy about football. When he wasn’t playing, he watched the beautiful game on TV. His parents wanted Mohamed to improve his marks and to concentrate on his education, but that was all in vain. Soccer was his only passion.
Salah’s football career began in the youth team of the El Mokawloon club. The club’s training base was situated far from Mohammed’s home, so he had to start his way at 9 a.m. to get to the training by 2 or 3 p.m. On his way, a boy had to change up to 5 buses. Needless to say, that he missed almost all of his lessons at school and completely devoted himself to football.
Luckily, Mohammed’s efforts weren’t left unnoticed. By 2010, he joined the El Mokawloon’s senior team. Having improved his skills, he consequently turned himself from a substitute player to a constant member of the starting squad. But, unfortunately, his successful Egyptian career didn’t last for long. In 2012, the Egyptian Premier League was suspended because of the stadium riots. The future of the players was unclear.
Salah was luckier than the majority of his teammates as the Swiss club Basel immediately decided to sign him. And that was the right decision for them — Mohamed rapidly became a key player in Basel. With his help, the team tasted European success as they narrowly missed the finals of the Europa League. In the domestic arena, Salah helped Basel to become national champions and to reach the Swiss Cup final. Thanks to these achievements, the player got an offer from Chelsea and moved to the club early in 2014.
At the London-based club, Salah barely left the bench. As a result, he was sent on loan to the Italian club Fiorentina. Having played there for a year, he refused to stay and moved to the Italian capital with A.S. Roma. His season in Roma was marked with 15 goals and 6 assists in total, so he had all the reasons to stay at the club permanently. Despite that, Salah chose Liverpool — he joined the club for the unbelievable fee of £50 million.
In Liverpool, Salah proved himself even more. During the 2017/18 season, he scored 32 times in 38 games, a league record. He also became the top-scorer of the season among all the participants of the 5 best European leagues.
With Salah’s help, Liverpool reached their long-awaited Champions League final. However, Salah could not be their saviour during this fixture. Shortly before the half-time, he got injured and left the field in tears. As a result, Liverpool lost 3-1.
Mohamed Salah made 11 international appearances in total for Egypt’s U20 and U23 teams. Moreover, he successfully represented his motherland as a senior in both 2014 and 2018 editions of the FIFA World Cup. In 2018, the team even passed the qualification rounds, and Salah helped his country with two goals.
In 2017, Salah was among Egypt’s African Cup of Nations squad. Not without his contribution, Egypt advanced to the final stage. Thanks to this success, he was recognized as the best player in Africa of 2017.
The Egyptian footballer is married to Maggi Salah, who rarely appears with him in public. The couple is raising a beautiful daughter, Makka.
It’s hard to find a football fan who hasn’t heard of Cristiano. But, surely, he wasn’t always as famous as he is now. About 33 years ago, the soccer legend was born in the Portuguese island of Madeira. To earn living, Ronaldo’s father worked as a part-time equipment manager at the local soccer club. It was he who first encouraged Ronaldo to try his skills at football. At first, Cristiano simply aimed to make his mother and sisters want to come to the stadium and watch him play. He worked harder and harder, and his family started to take his obsession with football seriously. At the age of 11, Ronaldo was sent to the Sporting’s football academy in Lisbon.
It was a hard time for little Cristiano. His family was poor, so they could afford to visit him only once every couple of months. The boy felt incredibly lonely, and football was Ronaldo’s only driving force. He even used to escape from the campus at nighttime to train more than his peers.
Perhaps, it was such an active pace of life that led Ronaldo to the health problems. At the age of 15, he underwent heart surgery. However, even that didn’t stop Cristiano. After a recovery process, he returned to the training. Two years after the operation, Cristiano joined Sporting’s secondary squad. After just two appearances, he was added to the first team squad and debuted in Primeira.
Ronaldo’s stint at Sporting was short. He was quickly noticed by Manchester United’s coach Alex Ferguson and got a £12 million offer from the club. That was the start of Ronaldo’s road to fame. By the way, he was only 18 then!
Cristiano himself calls Ferguson his ‘football father’. He spent 6 beautiful years with United, helping the club to win 3 Premiership titles, 2 EFL Cups, and 1 FA Cup. In 2008, Ronaldo won both the Club World Cup and the Champions League with United. It was then that the player got the first of his five Ballon d’Ors.
After such a triumph, Ronaldo wanted to achieve more. In 2009, he accepted Real Madrid’s offer for a record price of £80 million. His first year in Madrid was trophyless, but that was only the start of Cristiano’s and Real’s common golden period.
During nine years in Madrid, Cristiano contributed to winning 2 La Liga trophies, 2 Spanish Cups, 4 Champions League trophies, 2 UEFA Super Cups, and 3 FIFA Club World Cups. As for his personal achievements, this article is not sufficient to list them all. It seems like every year he broke his own records and established new unbelievable goals. Surely, it wasn’t always easy for Cristiano to keep up the pace, but he did it, winning the hearts of the millions of fans from all around the world.
But all good things must come to an end. In 2018, Ronaldo decided that the time had come for changes and moved to the Italian club Juventus. And even this transfer became a record — Ronaldo got the highest ever fee offered to a player by the Italian club.
Along with a successful club career, Ronaldo has been playing for Portugal since 2003. As for now, Ronaldo can boast of more than 100 competitive caps and about 70 goals for his country. His most notable achievements with Portugal were finishing 4th in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, reaching the Euro 2012 semi-finals, and becoming the European champion in 2016. For his merit to Portugal, Ronaldo was named the country’s best footballer in both 2016 and 2017.
As with the majority of celebrities, Ronaldo tries to keep his personal life, personal. But still, some facts are widely known. Ronaldo is a father to 4 children — an 8-year old Cristiano Jr., twins Eva and Mateo, and the youngest daughter Alana Martina. However, the public knows the identity of only Alana Martina’s mother — it is Cristiano’s girlfriend Georgina. As for the other kids, Ronaldo has never told the press who their mothers are.
It seems like Ronaldo is proud of his family. He often appears in public with his children, especially Cristiano Jr. By the way, the boy inherited his father’s skills — now he plays for Juventus’ U9 team.
Imagine a boy who plays ball on an empty hotel parking lot. And then imagine him in a stadium, in front of the big crowd, playing in the FIFA World Cup final. Both facts describe Luka Modric — a small Croatian boy, who grew up to be a big soccer star. Perhaps, he had the hardest road to fame among this year’s The Best FIFA Men’s Player nominees. His childhood was affected by the war.
Luka Modric was born in a tiny Croatian village of Modrici. When he was only 6, the Croatian War of Independence began. Luka’s grandfather was killed by his enemies, so his family became refugees. For several years, they lived in the cheap hotels in the city of Zadar. Little Luka played soccer, not just for fun, he just wanted a distraction from the horrors of war at least for an hour or two.
Although Modric’s family was poor, his parents noticed their son’s talent and sent the boy to the football academy of NK Zadar. The boy showed good skills and worked hard. Despite that, clubs didn’t want to sign Luka when he grew up as the young man was too small and skinny. Luckily, the leader of the academy Tomislav Basic understood that Modric needed to develop. In 2001, he helped the footballer to move to Dinamo Zagreb.
During the period from 2003 to 2008, Modric changed two clubs. While being a constant member of Dinamo Zagreb, he spent a season on loan in Bosnia and Herzegovinian Zrinjski, and then had a one-year stint in the Croatian Inter Zapresic. After that, he finally returned to Dinamo to win 3 national championships and 2 domestic cups with the club. Then he got a prospective offer from Tottenham Hotspur in 2008.
His start at Spurs was very slow, and Modric was often criticised for his physical shape. However, coach Harry Redknapp arrived and saw a talented midfielder in Luka. He organized the team around Modric, and that bore fruit. Thanks to the footballer’s brilliant assists, Tottenham enjoyed their inaugural Champions League participation, where they reached the quarter-finals. After such a success, Modric was finally recognized and accepted. Those managers, who used to criticise him, now wanted Luka to join their clubs.
Among several offers, he chose his current club Real Madrid and moved there in 2012. Although Modric can’t boast of dozens of goals, he’s the team’s most important passer and assister. The list of tournaments, won by Real with Modric, includes 4 Champions League editions, 3 FIFA Club World Cups, and 3 UEFA Super Cups. Moreover, he has several personal awards — for example, he twice became La Liga’s best midfielder.
Modric played for Croatia at all levels, starting from the U15 team. He’s remembered for scoring important goals in the 2008 and 2016 European Championships. But the real international fame came to Modric after the 2018 FIFA World Cup. In that competition, Luka presented his team 2 group stage goals and 2 successful penalty kicks. Although Croatia were only a runner-up of the tournament, Modric got the Golden Ball award for his efforts and achievements. He is also considered a player who ran the biggest distance during the competition. Moreover, the number of chances, created by Modric, was the 3rd most of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
In 2010, Luka Modric married his girlfriend Vania Bosnic, with whom he was in a long-time relationship before the wedding. The couple looks incredibly happy together — it seems like they are still deeply in love. Luka and Vania have three kids — a son Ivano, and two daughters, Ema and Sofia.
As you see from these three stories, nothing is impossible for those who want to achieve something. Everybody can become great — you just need to work hard and believe in your big dream.
And this little note is for those who love football and sports betting. Unfortunately, you can’t place bets on the winner of the Best FIFA Men’s Player nomination. Instead of that, you can bet on the nominees themselves! Monitor Mo Salah’s matches in Liverpool in the English Prem; check out Ronaldo’s fixtures in Juventus in Serie A; admire Luka Modric’s beautiful style of play for Real in La Liga. Modern betting platforms like YesPlay allow you to do this any time, using any device you have. So, enjoy football in all its glory!