Croatia captain Luka Modric wins World Cup Golden Ball
Catherine Ivill / Getty Images Sport / Getty

France captured its second World Cup title on Sunday by beating first-time finalist Croatia 4-2 in Moscow to establish itself as the premier nation in global football.

While Les Bleus made off with their winners' medals and the greatest prize of all, the coveted Golden Ball award for best player went to the losing captain, Luka Modric.

Belgium's Eden Hazard and France's Antoine Griezmann finished second and third in voting, respectively.

The selection of Modric means 2018 is the sixth World Cup in a row in which the Golden Ball victor did not win the tournament with his nation.

This summer's tournament served as a tremendous showcase for Modric's abilities, which are already globally renowned. Aside from registering two goals and an assist and creating twice as many chances as any of his teammates in Russia, the Real Madrid midfield magician was at the heart of everything good that his country did, mixing his trademark vision and passing ability with seemingly inexhaustible energy - despite playing the equivalent of more than an additional 90 minutes because three knockout games went to extra time, not to mention two penalty shootouts (he scored his spot-kick in both, of course).

Related: Modric's drive and invention at the heart of Croatia's World Cup run

In the final, he displayed those attributes again, winning his personal midfield battle with one of his closest rivals for the individual accolade, N'Golo Kante. The Chelsea man was booked after 27 minutes and then substituted just nine minutes into the second half after looking oddly off the pace all game - the effects, perhaps, of battling Modric.

The 32-year-old won his fourth Champions League title in Madrid less than two months ago, and this represented his best and, probably, last chance to win football's ultimate honour. Modric may have fallen short at the final hurdle, but after being ranked the fifth-best player in world football by Ballon d'Or voters in December, he was officially peerless for four weeks this summer.

For a man who was desperate to lead his country to glory, however, it may come as scant consolation.

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Croatia captain Luka Modric wins World Cup Golden Ball
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