Virgil van Dijk revelled in the ‘fantastic’ feeling of being crowned UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for 2019.
The Liverpool and Netherlands centre-back received the award in Monaco on Thursday, with his imperious performances for club and country last season seeing him beat off competition from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the prize.
Speaking after being presented with the accolade, Van Dijk told UEFA: “[It feels] fantastic. It’s been a great year and obviously, to get recognition for what we did last year is stunning.
“It’s down to everyone at Liverpool, everyone that is helping me along the way as well so it’s great.”
Van Dijk, who was also named Champions League Defender of the Season during the ceremony, went on provide his reaction to the Reds being paired with Napoli in the tournament’s pool stages for the second year in succession.
“Tough game. Napoli is an outstanding team, we obviously got beaten in the pre-season,” the No.4 said.
“Obviously, pre-season doesn’t say too much but we know how good they are. They have a fantastic squad with fantastic players.”
Salzburg and Genk will join the European champions and Carlo Ancelotti’s team in Group E.
Van Dijk continued: “Overall in the Champions League anything can happen, and obviously everyone wants to beat us as well.
“We have to be ready. We have to fight for every game and we’re going to try to do that.”