Zlatan Ibrahimovic revealed his delight and slight surprise at seeing "complete" Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric handed multiple individual honours in 2018.
Former Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo had largely hogged the limelight at the Santiago Bernabeu in past seasons, but Modric was influential in the side's third consecutive Champions League and then inspired Croatia'srun to the World Cup final.
The ex-Tottenham man's form saw him rewarded with the Golden Ball at Russia 2018 and then the coveted Ballon d'Or, won by either Ronaldo or great rival Lionel Messi in each of the previous 10 years.
And LA Galaxy star Ibrahimovic, who came fourth in the 2013 Ballon d'Or voting while with Paris Saint-Germain, was encouraged to see a different name in a different position recognised.
"I think [Modric] is one of the most complete midfielders in the world," Ibrahimovic told DAZN. "He has fantastic pace, he has a vision for the game that is amazing. The ball handling is amazing.
"I played against him at an early age, when he was a young player. Now he is an experienced player and I'm happy that he won the Ballon d'Or, the FIFA best player at the World Cup, all these things, because it's not often that a player like that gets that credit.
"Normally it's a striker or somebody that has been 'wow'. But this year, let's say last year, was his year. I'm happy that he won.
"Me and my mother being from Croatia, he's Croatian, so I'm happy. It's part of the blood."