The Croat was crucial to Real Madrid's third successive Champions League win and just a few weeks later, was the focal point of Croatia's unlikely run to the World Cup Final last summer in Moscow. With the youngster looking to get better with each passing minute, the Paris-Saint-Germain forward has class players around him at both global and club level to assist him in his journey. "My dream was to play for a big club and win important trophies", said Modric, above.
French World Cup star and Paris Saint-Germain teenage striker Kylian Mbappe came fourth, leaving Messi in fifth position.
The 33-year-old was instrumental as Real clinched a third successive Champions League trophy last season.
On a historic evening in Paris, the ceremony had a women's category for the first time since its inception in 1956, with Norway's Ada Hegerberg crowned the inaugural women's Ballon d'Or victor.
"Throughout my career I understood that work, persistence, believing in yourself, is the basis for expressing your talent".
Modric collected the award from presenter and former France forward David Ginola after a glamorous ceremony at the Grand Palais in Paris.
The former Tottenham Hotspur player is the first Croatian player to ever win the award.
"When Zidane became Madrid coach in January 2016, he called me to his office one day after training and told me how he saw me as a player and what he expected of me".
Modric was instrumental in that triumph and also steered Croatia to the World Cup final in Russian Federation in the summer, where they lost out to France.
France coach Didier Deschamps said a France player should have won the award.
"I'm counting on my team-mates in the club and the national team to be in Luka's place in the future". The Portuguese ended up as runner-up, while Messi was not even in the top three.
The previous oldest victor was central defender Fabio Cannvaro, who was also 33 when he won it in 2006 after helping Italy win the World Cup.
He also won the best Federation Internationale de Football Association men's player earlier this year, beating competition from Ronaldo and Egypt's Mo Salah.
Hegerberg is a three-time Women's Champions League victor with Olympic Lyonnais and scored a tournament-record 15 times last season.
While France Football are usually known for their efficiency, it looks like they made a serious blunder this time around, with a journalist from Trinidad and Tobago, Lasana Liburd, revealing that they had reversed the order of his votes while taking them into consideration.
However, it left most stunned, including Mbappe, who was pictured speechless at the incident, at the appalling change in tone as the words were subjected to Hegerberg, a woman achiever.