Virgil van Dijk is the first defender to be crowned UEFA Men’s Player of the Year. He’s also the first Liverpool player to win the award since Steven Gerrard in 2005.
The Dutch center back enjoyed an extraordinary 2018-19 season, winning the PFA Player of the Year and Champion’s League Defender of the Season on top of the Champions League trophy.
The 28-year-old beat out Ronaldo and Messi, winners of the last five of eight awards between the strikers, in a landslide to win the prestigious UEFA Men’s Player of the Year honors.
UEFA’s jury includes all 32 coaches from last year’s Champions League, all 48 managers from last season’s Europa League, plus 55 journalists for each of the UEFA’s member associations.
“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,” said Van Dyk in his acceptance speech.
Can Virgil van Dyk win the Ballon d’Or?
“Virg is an exceptional defender,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. “In the moment 100 percent the best defender in the world, so he deserves that prize absolutely. It’s now the icing on the cake of the Champions League campaign last year.”
Virgil could also be the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to win the Ballon d’Or. However, it is strikers like Messi and Ronaldo that usually win it.
A top player, Virgil van Dyk has been worth every penny the £75 million Liverpool paid for him in 2018.