Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was crazy on Thursday when Virgil van Dijk was named European Footballer of the Year on Thursday. The German thinks his pupil has more than earned the prize.
"Brilliant! This is not just a prize. I actually wanted to call him right away, but he still had to go on stage, haha," Klopp jokes a day after the election on the Liverpool site.
"I am so very happy for him, just as I am very happy for this club. Virgil knows better than anyone that he would not have won this prize without the help of his teammates. Actually, this prize is for the entire selection, but we have sent our great man to pick him up. "
Van Dijk is only becoming the fourth defender to win an international individual prize. Franz Beckenbauer (1976), Matthias Sammer (1996) and Fabio Cannavaro (2006) have in the past already received the Golden Ball, which is considered a little higher than the UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award.
"This is a huge success. A rare prize, especially as a defender. This gives a hugely important signal in football. We all love goals, but fortunately more and more people are also enthusiastic about defending," Klopp said.
Virgil van Dijk poses with the two prizes he received on Thursday. (Photo: Pro Shots)
"Virgil is the best defender in the world"
Van Dijk was preferred by UEFA to Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), who were also among the last three nominees, and is the successor to Luka Modric (Real Madrid), who, according to the European Football Association, is the best player of the 2017/2018 season.
"Virgil is an exceptionally good defender, at the moment he is without a doubt the best defender in the world. This is the icing on the cake after our Champions League campaign last season. What a great prize, I am so happy for Virgil and for his family, "Klopp concludes.
Van Dijk was also named best defender of the last Champions League season on Thursday. He beat Matthijs de Ligt, who made the switch from Ajax to Juventus earlier this summer, and his Liverpool team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold.
'VVD' is the first Dutchman to receive the Men's Player of the Year Award, which has been awarded by UEFA since 2011. Before that, the prize was called the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year.