We take a look at the top football players in the world today, examining their careers to date, how many goals they’ve scored and how many trophies and accolades they’ve won. Interested? Please read on.
1. Lionel Messi – Argentina – Born 24 June 1987
Debatedly the best player in the world, Lionel Messi (Full name is Lionel Andrés Messi), was born in Rosario, Argentina, in 1987. He is a forward player with exceptional dribbling and goal-scoring skills.
At 36 years of age, he no longer has that phenomenal burst of speed, but that is more than made up for by his football brain, his dribbling skills and his eye for goal, not to forget his ability to lay on goal-scoring opportunities for others.
Messi played out the major part of his professional career at FC Barcelona, making 620 appearances in league and cup matches in which he scored a total of 544 goals and made 230 assists.
His move to Paris St Germain in 2021 came as a huge surprise. After making 43 appearances and scoring 17 goals for PSG, in 2023, he signed for the US MLS side Inter Miami, where, at the time of writing, he has already scored 7 goals in his first 4 appearances.
In addition to his cub football, Lionel Messi has made 168 appearances for Argentina, scoring 137 goals and making 44 assists.
His 7 Ballon d’Ors, 6 Golden Boots, 1 Silver Boot and 3 European Player of the Year awards confirm his status as one of the best, if not THE best player in the world.
2. Kylian Mbappe – France – Born 20 December 1998
Kylian Mbappe’s professional football career began in earnest when he joined Monaco Youth in 2013. In 2015, he progressed to become part of the Monaco U19s. He transitioned to the main team and, in the 2016-17 season, became a fully-fledged member of the Ligue 1 title-winning side. In August 2017, he went out on loan to Paris St Germain, after which he joined PSG on July 18 permanently for the sum of €180 million.
Regarded by many as the best footballer in the world, Mbappe has all the skills and attributes a world-class striker needs in the modern game. Dazzling speed, intricate dribbling skills combined with a superior football brain, and they were all on show for everyone to see when he led the line in France’s FIFA World Cup bid. He was awarded the Golden Boot, scoring 8 goals, 3 of which he netted in the final against Argentina, who ran out 4-2 winners after going to penalties following a 3-3 draw after extra time.
Mbappe remains PSG’s leading scorer of all time with 212 goals. At just 24 years of age, he broke the previous 200-goal record held by Edinson Cavani.
At the time of writing, Kylian Mbappe’s future is still uncertain. He has not signed an extension to his contract at PSG and was left out of the PSG squad that went to Japan for their 2023/24 pre-season tour. Al-Hilal, the Saudi Arabian side, have tabled an offer worth a record £259m bid. If it goes through, it would break the transfer record, which stands at £200 million, for Naymar’s transfer to PSG from Barcelona. However, there is a possibility he could be loaned out for the season to Real Madrid or Liverpool. It’s also possible the US MLS might table an offer similar to the one that tempted Lionel Messi to sign for Inter Miami.
3. Erling Haaland – Norway – 21 July 2000
Whether or not Erling Haaland can be considered the best football player in the world, he is probably the best striker. In his first season in the EPL with Manchester City, he netted a record 36 goals in 35 games in the EPL and was awarded the Golden Boot.
The Leeds-born Norwegian goal machine began his path to football stardom at the age of 5, playing for his hometown, Bryne’s academy. In 2015/16, he played for Bryn’s reserve team scoring 18 goals in 14 games.
In February 2017, Haaland was signed by Molde. Over the course of 2 seasons, he played for them 43 times, scoring 14 goals.
In January 2019, he signed for Austrian Bundesliga champions Red Bull Salzburg, making 27 appearances, scoring 29 goals. Although he had signed a 5-year contract, he left after one year, joining Borussia Dortmund in January 2020. He remained there for two seasons scoring 62 goals in 67 appearances. In May 2022, he signed for Manchester City.
Halland has played at all levels for Norway. From the U15s to the U21s, when he made 46 appearances, scoring 30 goals. For the senior side, he’s scored 24 goals in 25 appearances.
He has also made Champions League history by being the fastest player to reach 30 goals, overtaking the great Ruud van Nistelrooy.
4. Kevin De Bruyne – Belgium – Born 28 June 1991
Midfield powerhouse Kevin De Bruyne currently captains Manchester City and the Belgian national team. He is often described as being the perfect all-round footballer and is considered not only one of the best of his generation but one of the best midfielders in the world.
As an 8-year-old, De Bruyne joined the youth academy at KVV Drongen in 1999. In July 2005, he was snatched up by KRC Genk Youth and went through the ranks through the U17s and U19s before reaching senior team status in July 2008. He scored his first goal for Genk in a league match against Standard Liege in 2010.
By the time Chelsea came calling for him in 2012, De Bruyne had appeared 97 times for his club and had scored 16 goals.
His move to Chelsea did not go well for him as he was drastically under-used. In January 2014, after a season-long successful loan to the Bundesliga side Werder Bremen, where he scored 10 goals in 33 appearances, he was transferred to another Bundesliga side, VfL Wolfsburg, who had noted the Belgian’s ability, mid-field class and quality. While playing for Wolfsburg, he scored 13 times, having made 52 appearances.
An astute Pep Guardiola had spotted his talent, and when approached by Manchester City, De Bruyne made the move to join them in August 2015 for a fee of £54.5m, the second-highest transfer fee ever shelled out by a British club at the time.
As a Belgian international, De Bruyne has made 118 appearances, scoring 28 goals.
In a magnificent career to date, it’s hard to pick out single events and achievements but worth mentioning is that in the 2019/20 season, he was voted the Manchester City Player of the Season, UEFA Midfielder of the Year and he also landed the coveted PFA Players’ Player of the Year Award.
More recently, in 2023, Kevin De Bruyne was also included in the FIFPro World XI for the 3rd consecutive year.
5. Karim Benzema – France – Born 19 December 1987
Karim Mostafa Benzema started his football career at 8 years of age with Bron Terraillon SC, his home football team. He came to the notice of Lyon when he put 2 goals in against their Lyon youth academy side, and shortly after, he was offered a place in Lyon’s academy.
While playing for the under-16 level, Benzema scored 38 goals in the Championnat National des 16 ans. After being promoted to Lyon’s senior reserve side, he scored 10 goals, a team high for the 2004/5 season, even though he only played in their August campaign.
He joined the senior team in 2004, but it wasn’t until 2007, when he was given more playing time, that he began to show his true worth, and in the 2007/8 season, having been switched to the main striker role, his goals and assists became a regularity. When Real Madrid came knocking, Benzema had notched up 132 appearances at Lyon, scoring 58 goals.
The legend of Karim Benzema was fully formed at the Bernabéu. During his time there, he was instrumental in helping Los Blancos to win five Champions Leagues, four La Liga titles, and three Copas del Rey.s He just seemed to improve with age and having scored 44 goals in 46 games while helping Real to win both the Champions League and La Liga in 2021-22, the 34-year-old won the 2022 Ballon d’Or best player of the year award.
In his 14 years as a Real Madrid player, he made a total of 644 appearances and scored 353 goals, making him the Real Madrid second highest top scorer of all time behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
In June 2023, Karim Benzema left Real for the Saudi Arabian side, Al-Ittihad, for an as-yet undisclosed sum.
As a French national team player, he has played on 132 occasions and has scored 57 goals.
6. Harry Kane – England – Born 28 July 1993
Harry Kane was born in the London borough of Waltham Forest. Being brought up within 15 minutes from White Hart Lane and with most of his family as Spurs supporters, it seemed that the young Kane was naturally destined to play for Tottenham Hotspur, and so it proved.
The young Harry Kane first played for local club, Ridgeway Rovers, and when aged 8, he joined the Arsenal youth academy. They let him go after a season, saying he was a little chubby and not very athletic.
His first trial at Spurs proved unsuccessful, and he returned to Ridgeway Rovers. In 2004, he had a 4-to-6-week trial at Watford, during which he played against Tottenham and impressed. He was approached by Spurs in 2009 and became a member of the Tottenham Youth squad.
Between the years 2011 to 2013, he had loan spells at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester.
Back from loan, in April 2014, then Spurs manager Tim Sherwood gave Kane his first EPL start against Sunderland, during which he scored his first EPL goal. He also scored in the next two matches.
In the 2014/15 season, Harry Kane was voted the PFA Young Player of the Year award. It was the start of something big. In the next 9 seasons to 2022/23, he made 409 appearances for Tottenham, scoring 275 goals, an average of 31.1 goals per season.
He is Tottenham’s all-time leading goal scorer with 280 goals and also England’s all-time leading goal scorer with 58 goals.
Sadly, for Kane, despite 3 EPL Golden Boot awards, and the 2021 EPL Playmaker of the Season award, and boatloads of goals, he is yet to win any silverware. However, he hopes that his transfer to Bayern Munich announced on August 11, 2023, will correct that oversight.
7. Vinícius Júnior – Brazil – Born 12 July 2000
Vinícius Júnior is considered by many football pundits to be one of the best players in the world. He is renowned for his speed, great dribbling abilities, and playmaking skills.
Born in São Gonçalo, Brazil, Júnior’s career started in 2006 when he accompanied his father to the offices of local football club Flamengo. Between 2007 and 2010, the young Brazilian attended futsal classes at Flamengo’s Academy. Wanting to play football rather than futsal, in August 2010, Vinícius took and passed his football tests at Flamengo.
He made his first appearance for the Flamengo senior side in May 2017. Shortly after, his contract was extended with an increase to the buyout clause from €30 million to €45 million. It was part of a transfer agreement with Real Madrid which included selling the then 17-year-old by his 18th birthday in 2018.
Having scored his first professional goal at Flamengo in August 2017, he netted his first goal for Los Blancos in November 2018. Since then, Vinicius has made 279 appearances for Real, scoring 73 goals in total and making 69 assists.
For his country (Brazil), he has played for the U15, U17s and U20s, making 29 appearances and scoring 23 goals. At senior level, he has made 23 appearances, scoring 3 goals.
He was voted La Liga Player of the Month in November 2021, UEFA Champions League Young Player of the Season 2021–22 and appeared in La Liga’s Team of the Season 2021/22 and the 2021–22, and 2022–23 Champions League Teams of the Season.
8. Robert Lewandowski – Germany – Born 21 August 1988
When it comes to prolific strikers, you’ve got to go a long way to beat Robert Lewandowski; in fact, you probably won’t find anyone still playing to match him, apart perhaps from Erling Haaland Lewandowski’s sense of positioning and his clinical finishing ability are second to none.
He began his football career playing for local club Partyzant Leszno. In 1997, still only 9 years old, he joined MKS Varsovia Warsaw and was with them for 7 years. In 2005 he signed for Delta Warsaw, who played in the 4th tier of Polish professional football. By the end of his first season, he had scored 4 goals.
In season 2006/7, he signed for Znicz Pruszków II, scoring 6 goals in just 2 appearances. He finished the season top goal scorer in Division 3 with 15 goals, helping his club to win promotion. The following season he made 59 appearances for their first team and was the top goal scorer in the Polish second division with 21 goals (36 in all competitions).
Between 2008 and 2010, Lewandowski played for another Polish team, Lech Poznań, and scored 32 goals in 58 appearances. He then moved to the German Bundesliga, which is where he made his name.
Between 2010 and 2014, he played for Borussia Dortmund, scoring 74 goals, but it was at Bayern Munich that his goal-scoring flair really stood out. In the years 2014 to 2022, Lewandowski scored 238 goals in 253 appearances. He also made a new season goal tally record – 41 goals, beating the previous record set by Bayern Munich and Germany legend Gerd (Der Bomber) Muller, set 49 years ago.
9. Mo Salah – Egypt – Born 15 June 1992
Mohamed Salah Hamed Mahrous Ghaly currently plays as a forward for Liverpool. He started his career as a fullback, but his desire and passion to score goals led him to become a striker. He is fast-paced, has excellent dribbling skills, and a keen eye for goal. Regarded by many as one of the world’s best players, he is also arguably the greatest African player of all time.
His record as a forward and striker for Liverpool is hugely impressive. He came on onboard at Anfield on 22 June 2017 for a reported fee of £36.5m. He scored on his first appearance for the Reds on August 12, 2017.
On March 17th, 2018, he scored 4 goals against Watford, creating a new Liverpool season record. At the same time, he also became the leading scorer in the top 5 leagues in Europe. He has won 3 EPL Golden Boot awards – 2017/18 (32 goals), 2018/19 (22), and 2021/22 (23).
His goal-scoring record for Liverpool is the epitome of skill, class, and consistency, having, in all competitions, scored 27 goals in 2017- 23 in 2019-20, 31 in both 2020-21 and 2021-22, and 30 goals in 2022/23. He is Liverpool’s all-time top goal scorer with 186 goals and 79 assists.
In club football to date, Mo Salah has made 556 appearances, scored 263 goals and made 132 assists. He has appeared 114 times for Egypt (at all levels), scoring 59 goals.
10. Bukayo Saka – England – Born 5 September 2001
Bukayo Ayoyinka Temidayo Saka has played out his entire first-team club career to date with Arsenal. He has helped the Gunners to win an FA Cup and 2 FA Community Shields, and, ever growing in stature and reputation, was voted Arsenal’s player of the year 2020/21, 2021/22.
His introduction to the world of football began with the youth teams at Watford. He was then inducted into Arsenal’s Hale End Academy when he was 7.
Saka made his debut appearance for Arsenal on November 29, 2018, when he came on in the 68th minute in an EFA Europa League match against Vorskla Poltava, but it wasn’t until September 19, 2019, that he netted his first goal. It was a long-range “curler” against German side Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League. He also chalked up 2 assists in the same game.
Although we know him as an awesome forward player today, in 2020, Saka established a regular first-team place in the left-back position. However, his attacking play, dribbling skills and the number of assists he began making soon secured him a forward position and we are now used to seeing him wearing the number 7 shirt. At the time of this article being published, Saka has made 233 appearances for Arsenal at all levels and has scored a total of 38 goals.
He has represented England at all levels from the U15s upwards 35 times scoring 8 goals. At senior level, he has made 28 appearances, scoring 11 goals.
11. Jude Bellingham – England – Born 29 June 2003
The fact that Jude Bellingham is considered one of the world’s top players was borne out when, in June 2023, he signed for Real Madrid for a fee of £103m. Only two players have cost more in their teen years – Kylian Mbappe and Joao Felix.
Bellingham began his football career with Birmingham City. When he made his first senior team appearance in 2019, he became the youngest player to debut for the Blues, beating the previous holder of the youngest player record, Trevor Francis, who recently passed away. All-in-all, Bellingham made 41 appearances for the Blue’s first team, scoring 4 goals.
In 2020, he was sought out by Borussia Dortmund, signing for them on July 20, 2020, for a fee of €30.15m. He made history with the German club by becoming the team’s youngest-ever captain at the age of 19. Making a total of 146 appearances for Dortmund between 2020 and 2023, Bellingham scored 22 goals and chalked up 22 assists.
He signed for Real Madrid in July 2023 for €103m.
On the international stage, Bellingham has made 26 appearances for England U15s to U21s, scoring 8 goals, and for the senior team (although he is only 20), he has appeared 24 times, scoring once.
Unlike many of the top-rated players in the world, Bellingham is not a prolific goal scorer, at least not yet. But his midfield play is of the highest order. England teammate Phil Foden said that he didn’t want to big him up too much as he is still young but went on to say that he’s one of the most gifted players he’s ever seen, that he has no weaknesses, and that he has the potential to be the world’s best midfielder.
12. Rodri Hernández Cascante – Spain – Born 22 June 1996
Rodrigo Hernández Cascante is a defensive midfielder who currently plays for Manchester City. He is strong, tough in the tackle and gets through a tremendous work rate. He has great passing skills and the ability to shoot from distance. He is considered to be one of the world’s top defensive midfield players.
Rodri began his football career at the age of 11 when, in 2007, at the age of 11, he joined CF Rayo Majadaho. In July of that year, he joined Atléti Youth, until in 2012, he signed for the U17s at Atletico Madrid. In July 2013, he took a free transfer to Villa Real, where he remained for 4 years. During his time at VR, Rodri clocked up 102 appearances and scored 2 goals.
On May 24, 2018, having agreed a transfer fee of €20m, Rodri returned to Atletico Madrid where, during the 2018/19 season, he appeared for them 34 times, scoring 3 goals in total.
Just 1 year after joining Atletico, Manchester City agreed to meet the £62.6 million release clause to curtail his 5-year contract, and he signed for the Citizens on July 4, 2019.
He made his first appearance for Man City on August 10, 2019, and on September 14, Rodri scored his first goal for the club. Since then, he hasn’t looked back, cementing his place in what has proved to have been one of the most successful and feared clubs in Europe.
The 2020/21 season saw Rodri achieve a 91.8% completion rate for passes – the highest ever for any EPL midfielder.
Rodri netted his first Champions League goal against Bayern Munich on April 11, 2023. He also scored the only goal in the CL final against Inter Milan. He was named man of the match and also the Champions League player of the season.
A player of Rodri’s calibre is a “must-have” for the Spanish national side, and he has appeared for them 59 times, scoring 2 goals.
13. Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal – Born 5 February 1985
Most football pundits will nominate either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi when asked to name the top player in the world today. Both are legends in their own right.
While their footballing skills, brains, and goal-scoring prowess are second to none, Ronaldo is perhaps the more controversial and outspoken of the two, which is often what divides the supporters’ camps. But rather than enter into a long debate about these two football icons, let’s just simply list Ronaldo’s achievements, and upon comparing them to the section above on Lionel Messi, you can make your own decision.
- Winner of 5 Ballon d’Ors
- Winner of 3 UEFA Best Player in Europe awards
- Winner of 4 European Golden Boot awards
- Has won 32 trophies in his career
- Most appearances (183) in the Champions League
- Most goals (140) in the Champions League
- Most assists (42) in the Champions League
- All-time top scorer for Real Madrid (311 goals)
- World-leading goal scorer – 842 goals
- Most capped Portuguese player – 200 caps
Ronaldo’s golden years were undoubtedly the time he spent at Real Madrid between 2009 and 2018. But when he transferred from Real to Juventus on July 10, 2018, he also made a huge impact on the Series A league, scoring 81 goals in 98 appearances.
His return for a second stint at Manchester United in the 2021/22 season was stormy as he and United manager, Erik ten Hag, didn’t see eye to eye.
At the age of 38, and still a talent to be reckoned with, Cristiano Ronaldo is now playing for the Suadi Arabian club, Al Nassr.
14. Carlos Henrique Casimiro – Brazil – Born 23 February 1992
Carlos Henrique Casimiro is a Brazilian footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder for EPL club side Manchester United. He also captains the Brazil national team. He is renowned for his tackling and defensive, ball-winning skills. Casemiro is generally regarded as one of the best defensive midfield players in the world today and was included in FIFA’s FIFPro World 11 in 2022.
Casimiro began his professional football career with Brazilian club São Paulo in 2010 when he was 18. He played for them 92 times, scoring 9 goals. He was then sent on loan to Real Madrid in January 2013 and played for their B side in the second division of La Liga. He scored his first European goal on June 2, 2013. Shortly after, he was signed permanently. He was then loaned out to FC Porto, but 1 year later, was back playing for Real, where he made 221 appearances, scoring 24 goals.
He moved to Manchester United on August 22, 2022, and to date has made 28 appearances, scoring 4 goals.
He made his international debut for the Brazilian national senior team on September 14, 2011. He played for the U17s and U20s 22 times, scoring 4 goals and 71 times for the Brazilian senior team scoring on 7 occasions, one of which was the winning goal against Switzerland in the FIFA 2022 World Cup.
15. Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior – Brazil – Born February 5, 1992
Neymar is widely regarded as one of the greatest Brazilian footballers of all time. As well as playing for the Brazilian national team, he currently plays club football for the French Ligue 1 side Paris St German. Universally recognised as a skilled playmaker and prolific goal scorer, he is one of only a handful of players to have scored over 100 goals for 3 different clubs.
Neymar burst onto the professional football scene in 2009 when he joined Brazilian club. Santos. Between 2009 and 2013, he made 177 appearances for Santos, scoring 107 goals.
In 2011. he won the FIFA Puskás Award for scoring a magnificent solo goal in the Brasileirão Série A game against Flamengo. Later that year, he won the 2011 South American Footballer of the Year award. He scored his 100th goal on the 5th of February 2012. He was voted Best Player of the 2012 Recopa Sudamericana. He was also voted the best forward of the season and was awarded the Golden Ball, the Arthur Friedenreich Award, and the Armando Nogueira Trophy.
On the 3rd of June 2013, he completed his dream move to Europe when he signed for Barcelona. In his 4-year stint at Camp Nou, he scored 105 goals.
In his next move, Neymar joined Paris St Germain on August 3, 2017. He is still there now (at the time of writing) and has scored 107 goals for them in all competitions and friendlies. Unfortunately, relations between Neymar and PSG have taken a turn for the worse, and it is rumoured he might return to FC Barcelona.
Neymar has served the Brazilian national team well, winning 124 caps and scoring 77 goals.
16. Ilkay Gündoğan – Germany – Born 24 October 1990
İlkay Gündoğan is a German professional footballer, now playing FC Barcelona, having recently left Manchester City. He is one of the most highly-rated attacking midfield players in the world and began his professional football career when he signed for FC Nürnberg in 2009.
Two years later, he transferred to Borussia Dortmund and, in his first season, was part of their double-winning side, claiming both the Bundesliga title and the DFB-Pokal Cup. In 2013, he was a member of the team that got through to its first Champions League final in 16 years. All in all, he played 157 matches for Dortmund, scoring 15 goals.
In 2016, he signed for Manchester City, where he played the best football of his career. He helped City to win 2 FA Cups, 4 EFL Cups, and 5 EPL titles, culminating in captaining the City side that won the UEFA Champions League title in 2023.
On the 26t of June 2023, Gündoğan signed a 3-year free transfer deal with FC Barcelona.
Ilkay Gündoğan also appeared for the German national team, making his debut in 2012. He had a total of 90 caps and scored 18 goals.
17. Bernardo Silva – Portugal – Born 10 August 1994
Bernardo Mota Veiga de Carvalho e Silva is an attacking midfield player and winger who currently plays for Manchester City and the Portuguese national team. He is creative hardworking, and displays excellent dribbling skills, and is deemed one of the best forward players in the world.
Bernado Silva had the ideal start to his career attending Benfica’s youth academy. In 2012, he started playing for the Benfica B team and, in 2014, was promoted to Benfica’s first team. After just a few games, he was loaned out to the French Ligue side Monaco during the 2014/15 season. He signed a 4-year contract with Monaco for €15.75m and was part of their Ligue 1 champion side in 2017. In total, he made 101 appearances for Monaco, scoring 21 goals.
In July 2017, Manchester City came calling, and he cemented a €50m transfer deal. In 2019, he was voted Player of the Year. He played a significant role and was instrumental in City winning 2 FA Cups, 4 EFL Cups, and 5 EPL titles. He also helped the Citizens to win the UEFA Champions League title in 2023 and complete the European treble.
On the international stage, Bernardo Silva has been capped for Portugal 109 times and has scored 58 goals.
18. Luka Modrić – Croatia – Born 9 September 1985
Luka Modrić is rated by many in the know as one of the greatest midfielders of all time. His best position is as a central midfielder, but he is extremely capable in both attacking and defending roles.
Albeit of small stature physically, Luka Modrić has tremendous strength for his size, something he attributes to the time he spent playing in the Bosnian Premier League. He maintains that anyone who can play in this league can play anywhere. It was while playing for Zrinjski Mostar that he developed his versatile style of play, for which he was rewarded by being awarded Bosnian Premier League Player of the Year at the age of 18.
In the 2005–06 season, Modrić signed his first long-term contract with Dinamo Zagreb on the 12th of January 2005. He made 94 appearances and scored 26 goals.
Modrić joined Tottenham Hotspur on the 1st of July 2008. He had a sketchy start, and it wasn’t until Harry Redknapp took over as manager in October 2008 that he was given a fair crack of the whip. He made a total of 127 appearances for Spurs, scoring 13 goals.
On August 27, 2012, Modrić transferred to Real Madrid for a fee of €30m. Under the management of Carlo Ancelotti, he became a Real regular, consistently being the team’s most efficient passer (averaging 90% accuracy in La Liga) and making the most ball recoveries in the squad.
Modrić’s influence grew even more when Zinedine Zidane became manager in January 2016. He described the Croatian as master of the game and the crucial “connector” between defence and attack. For the second time in his career, Modrić was awarded the LFP award for the “Best Midfielder” of the Spanish first league and was included in the FIFA FIFPro World XI.
Making 327 appearances for the La Liga giants, Modrić scored 26 goals.
Modrić has been capped for Croatia 203 times and has scored 27 goals. He won the Golden Ball of the FIFA 2018 World Cup. He captained Croatia to a second consecutive World Cup semi-final in 2022, losing 3–0 to Argentina. Croatia finished in 3rd place, with Modrić winning the Bronze Ball award.