UEFA announced their UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for 2018-19 by naming Liverpool’s star centre-back Virgil Van Dijk the winner. Van Dijk pipped out some great stars like Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus and Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona to win the honour.
The Dutch defender won the Champions League with Liverpool last year and was crowned at the ceremony for Champions League group stage draw. His contributions with five clean sheets as well as two goals and two assists in the 12 appearances he made helped the Merseyside lift the coveted European Cup for the sixth time.
The former Celtic and Southampton defender has been garnered with awards and good performances this year with him also being named PFA Player of the Season and Liverpool Players’ and Fans’ Player of the Season. His fine didn’t just stop at Liverpool as he took his country, Netherlands to the inaugural UEFA Nations League Finals in June where they beat England 3-1 after extra time in the semis before Portugal defeated them in the finals.
“I need to thank my team-mates; without them I wouldn’t have achieved what I’ve achieved over the past year. It’s been a long road but it’s been part of my journey. I had to work hard at every step along the way and I’m happy to have done that. I’m happy to receive this trophy – it’s a credit to everyone I’ve worked alongside.” said Van Dijk.
Their year’s performance brought great reaps to them as Liverpool swooped two of the potential four positional awards with Van Dijk and Alisson Becker taking the Defenders and Goalkeepers award respectively.
Alisson’s six clean sheets in Liverpool’s Champions League proved out to be another factor to edge him past his rivals in the award. He made many saves for his club including the eight saves in the Champions League final against Tottenham which the Reds won 2-0.
Frenkie De Jong was awarded the Midfielder Award while Lionel Messi grabbed the Forwards Award. Messi was able to get past his rival Ronaldo in grabbing the award while Frenkie’s great performances at Ajax helped him get some amazing offers from Europe with Barcelona ultimately winning the race with a £65 million deal.
More awards were given at the ceremony like the UEFA #EqualGame Award which was jointly awarded to Scott Cunliffe, a Burnley fan, and Borussia Dortmund. Scott Cunliffe was honoured with the award for running to every single Burnley away game in the 2018-19 season to raise the clubs’ charities by more than £54,000.
Dortmund were awarded for tackling far-right extremism among their fans, challenging racism and adopting a clear policy on the humanitarian rights of refugees and asylum seekers. The first award of the evening went to Manchester United legend Eric Cantona, who collected the President’s Award from UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin to honour his illustrious playing career and charity work.