Football's world governing body then introduced the Best Fifa Football Awards, with Portugal global Ronaldo the first recipient of its main prize in January 2017.
Hardcore Liverpool supporters argued that Salah ought to have been named the best player but Modric took that prize home after three consecutive Champions League triumphs and a journey to the World Cup final with Croatia.
At a ceremony in London, Modric was handed the prize from Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino and gave a superb speech - congratulating both Salah and Ronaldo, thanking his teammates from both club and country, his family and all those who voted for him.
Liverpool's Mo Salah has had a sensational performance but he has not won any trophy with his club or country and that could play out against him tonight.
"I'm still not realising how good a year I had collectively, individually, and I'm very proud for everything I achieved this year and it will be remembered forever". Portugal suffered a disappointing last-16 exit from the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation, after which he moved to Juventus in a 112 million euros (£99.2m) transfer.
Neither Ronaldo or Messi attended the glitzy ceremony in London with both in action for Juventus and Barcelona respectively on Wednesday.
However, Portugal's last 16 exit to Uruguay in Russian Federation and Ronaldo's failure to score in the semi-finals or final of the Champions League has opened the door for Modric.
Modrić was also named in the Fifa Fifpro World XI.
Despite scoring in each of his two appearances in Russia, The Pharaohs bowed out at the group stage with three defeats.
Best Women's coach: Reynald Pedros, coach of Lyonnais Féminin - who won the French league and the Women's Champions League last season - picks up the award.
The Egyptian striker picked the ball up on the edge of the Everton box, breaking free of his marker before curling a left-footed strike into the top corner.
Best men's Coach: Men's Coach award was won by World Cup victor Didier Deschamps, he was presented the award by compatriot and former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger.
France's Didier Deschamps won the award for the best men's coach in 2018.
The female nominees for FIFA's The Best are Ada Hegerberg (Norway), Dzsenifer Marozsan (Germany) and Marta (Brazil).
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