Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk was named UEFA’s Men’s Player of the Year at the Champions League draw ceremony in Monaco on Thursday, with England star Lucy Bronze picking up the Women’s award.
Dutchman Van Dijk – who also picked up the award for Defender of the Year – pipped Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the top gong after Liverpool’s Champions League success last season, with the Barcelona star being named as the Forward of the Year.
Bronze wasn’t able to attend the ceremony as she is playing for England in Belgium on Thursday evening.
Van Dijk’s Liverpool colleague Alisson Becker won the UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year award, and his Dutch international teammate Frenkie De Jong was named as the Midfielder of the Year.
Van Dijk said: “I wasn’t 18 and went straight to the top. I had to work every step of the way.
“I looked up to Ronaldinho a lot growing up. He enjoyed his play with all his tricks, it was a great feeling to watch him play.
“I need to thank my teammates, without them I would not have achieved what I have achieved.
“It’s been a long road and it’s part of my journey. I’m very proud to get this trophy. It’s credit to everyone who has helped me.”
The three-man Men’s Player shortlist was decided following votes from a jury of 80 coaches of the clubs that began the Champions League (32) and Europa League (48) group stages last season, as well as one journalist from each of the 55 UEFA member associations.
UEFA had already announced that Van Dijk’s Liverpool teammates Alisson, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah had taken their places in the top 10 – coming in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.
The Champions League success marked a golden ending to Alisson’s first season in English football, with the Brazilian goalkeeper keeping six clean sheets in the Champions League including one in the final.
Mane and Salah shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with the Senegalese scoring a brace against Bayern Munich in the second round of the Champions League and Salah netting the opener against Tottenham in Madrid from the spot.
The remainder of the top 10, in order, was made up of Eden Hazard, Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Raheem Sterling.