Virgil van Dijk has won the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, an award handed out at the UEFA Champions League draw, beating competition from nominations Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the award.
The Dutchman was the rock of a Liverpool defense that won the Champions League for a sixth time last season, beating Tottenham 2-0 in the final.
He was also instrumental in the Reds’ miraculous semi-final win against Barcelona, overcoming a 3-0 deficit at Camp Nou to win 4-3 at Anfield to advance to the final in Madrid.
Accepting the award, a humble van Dijk said: “I’m very proud to get this trophy and its all credit to the people who helped me on the way.”
The center back paid tribute to Brazilian playmaker Ronaldinho as his inspiration, citing his “joy and tricks” as key factors for spurring him on to play street football.
For the 2019/20 season, the current holders were drawn against Napoli, Salzburg, Genk in Group E to begin the defense of their crown.