Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has been named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for 2018/19.
The Dutch international beat off competition from three-time UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo and two-time winner Lionel Messi. The 28-year-old centre-back received the trophy on stage in Monaco during the UEFA Champions League group stage draw.
Why did Van Dijk win the vote?
Following Liverpool’s 2018 final defeat by Real Madrid, Van Dijk had every reason for nerves ahead of the 2019 decider, but his concentration did not waver. He shut out the opposition and was named man of the match as his side edged out Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid.
Fearless since arriving from Southampton in January 2018, Van Dijk kept more clean sheets than any defender in Europe’s top five leagues in 2018/19. While Liverpool fell narrowly short in the Premier League, his solid presence (and occasional goalscoring efforts) provided the platform for a sixth European Cup.