Virgil van Dijk beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to be crowned UEFA Men’s Player of the Year on Thursday night.
The Dutch centre-back was also named Champions League Defender of the Season and is now heavy favourite with bookmakers to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or in December.When picking up the Player of the Year award, he said: “First of all, I think I need to thank all of my [Liverpool] teammates
“It’s been a long road but that’s part of my journey, it’s part of who I am. I needed it like this, I’m not a player who was 18 years old and had that rise straight away.
“I had to work hard for every step of the way – that’s part of me and I’m very happy about that. I’m very proud to get this trophy and it’s all credit to everyone that’s helped me along the way.”
Van Dijk was fully deserving of his triumph following a season where he won the Champions League and finished second in the Premier League with Liverpool.
He’s undoubtedly the best centre-back in the world right now and there’s a very good chance he’ll be adding the Ballon d’Or to his growing collection of trophies later this year.
Only Messi can stop Van Dijk from winning the ‘Golden Ball’, although if the voting for Player of the Year is anything to go by, it’s a one-horse race.
Van Dijk beat Messi by almost 100 points in a vote that was made up of coaches from every team in last season’s Champions League and Europa League, as well as 55 journalists.
Each member of the jury picked their top three players, awarding their No.1 pick up to five points, No.2 three points and No.3 one point.
Here’s how the top 10 looked:
1. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool & Netherlands) – 305 points
2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina) – 207 points
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus & Portugal) – 74 points
4. Alisson (Liverpool & Brazil) – 57 points
5. Sadio Mane (Liverpool & Senegal) – 51 points
6. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool & Egypt) – 49 points
7. Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Real Madrid & Belgium) – 38 points
8. = Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus & Netherlands) – 27 points
8. = Frenkie de Jong (Ajax/Barcelona & Netherlands) – 27 points
10. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City & England) – 12 points
It’s no surprise that Liverpool had four players in the top 10, while two former Ajax players in Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong made the cut by virture of their run in the Champions League.