Luka Modric was crowned the winner of the Ballon d’Or in 2018 on Monday evening, ending ten years of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messidominance.
Yet, the midfielder revealed that one man saw the award coming as long as almost three years ago.
“There wasn’t a specific moment where he told me: You can win it,” Modric told France Football.
“When I recounted all of the individual trophies that I’ve won this year and when I saw that I was among the 30 finalists, I began to believe it, but there’s one thing I’ll never forget.
“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.
“He told me that I was an important player for him and, above all, that he saw me as a player who could win the Ballon d’Or.
“When someone like Zidane, with all of his personality and history, tells you that, it boosts your confidence.
“I admired him and respected him enormously as a player, he saw me as someone like himself, quiet and a bit shy, he expected me to express myself more on the pitch, to open up.
“He needed me to be a key part of the team in an era when we were truly playing well.
“Those words from Zidane helped me to go further in my play.
“Even in spite of his words, I didn’t begin to believe it.”
The two worked side by side for two and a half years before the Frenchman left the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.