Van Dijk Takes Over Messi, Ronaldo For UEFA Player Of The Year Award .

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk won the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award on Thursday, edging out Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, while Lucy Bronze took the women’s prize.

Van Dijk starred as Liverpool won over Tottenham in Madrid and sixth European Cup last season with a 2-0 Champions League final victory .

He moved to Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018 for a then-world record fee for a defender of £75 million ($91.4 million), immediately helping them reach that season’s Champions League final where they lost to Real Madrid.

But Van Dijk was a key figure as Liverpool won their first major trophy since 2012 last term, while also setting a club-record points tally in finishing second by a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League.

“I wasn’t 18 and went straight to the top. I had to work every step of the way,” added Van Dijk, who was also part of the Netherlands side who lost the inaugural Nations League final to Ronaldo’s Portugal.

“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.”

“We have not yet had dinner but it is nice. We push each other and it’s good to be part of the history of football.”

Messi and Ronaldo had claimed five of the previous eight awards between them, with Andres Iniesta (2012), Franck Ribery (2013) and Luka Modric (2018) completing the winners’ list.

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