Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo often play for themselves, says Lothar Matthaus

Dec 06, 2018, 08:22 IST | Ronald Chettiar

1990 World Cup-winning German captain Lothar Matthaus shoots from lip and hails Luka after Croatian wins Ballon d'Or

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo often play for themselves, says Lothar Matthaus
Former Germany skipper Lothar Matthaus indulges in a game of football during a coaching clinic at Cooperage yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble

Germany's 1990 World Cup-winning captain Lothar Matthaus yesterday hailed Croatia's Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric for winning the Ballon d'Or, thus ending the decade-long hold of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on Europe's best player award. Matthaus, 57, a Ballon d'Or (1990) and FIFA World Player of the Year (1991) winner himself, said he was happy that a team player like Modric won individual awards this year.

Modric, 33, won his third successive Champions League in May before helping Croatia to a first World Cup final in Russia. Earlier, he was named best male player at the Best FIFA Football Awards "Modric is a different player as compared to Messi and Ronaldo. The Croatian is a team player while the other two more often play for themselves. Mordic is a captain of the Croatia team and he is a leader in a different way to the Argentine or the Portuguese," said Matthaus during a BVB Evonik Football School event in association with Indo-German Chamber of Commerce and Bundesliga team Borrussia Dortmund at Cooperage yesterday. "Modric deserves to win the Ballon d'Or ahead of the two. He is not only a team player, but also a great player. He is a nice guy. I like a player who always gives his best for the team. And now he's got the best player award. I think it's a good decision."

The former Bayern Munich midfielder, who was in Kochi on Tuesday to watch an Indian Super League match, said that Indian football has come a long way and believes the national team can go far in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup to be held in UAE this month. India are grouped with UAE, Thailand and Bahrain. "When I saw the group, I felt India have the quality to provide strong competition to other teams in the group and make it to the next round."

Matthaus believes it won't be long before the Indian team will be up there fighting on the world stage. "For Indian football to grow, it needs time. But, there is a good domestic structure. There are good foreign players in the competition [ISL]. Indian football is going from strength to strength and I believe India will be fighting for a place in the World Cup in eight to 10 years," said Matthaus, who held the record of having played in five FIFA World Cups (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998), more than any other outfield player in men's football, until Mexico's Rafael Márquez emulated the German in 2018.

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