Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk was elected UEFA Player of the Year on Thursday in Monaco, ahead of two international stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 28-year-old becomes the first defender to win the prize. An emblematic figure of the Reds until he won the Champions League in June, he succeeds Luka Modric, the Real Madrid side, ahead of Turin’s Ronaldo and Barcelona striker Messi.
Elected on the sidelines of the draw of the Champions League in Monaco, Van Dijk has obtained 305 points, against 207 to Messi, double winner (2011, 2015) and 74 to Cristiano Ronaldo, three times sacred (2014, 2016, 2017) .
The Dutchman is already looking for other individual trophies, such as September’s “The Best” award, awarded in September, or the prestigious “Ballon d’Or”, a prize awarded to the best football player in the world.
“I am very grateful to the voters who preferred me to these two world-class players who have been laureates for years,” Van Dijk told a news conference.
“I’m proud to be on the list of this trophy, it’s a fact. But I have too much respect for these two players who have been there for years,” he added. Since the creation of the UEFA trophy in 1998, he has been the first defender to win the prize, while juries generally favor attackers or playmakers. He also commented on this observation by commenting: “Maybe that in the last two years the defenders have received a little more recognition.”