As featured on NewsNow: Football news

Liverpool defender Van Dijk: I belong on the dais with Messi and Ronaldo

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk insists any individual awards "won't change me".

Van Dijk won UEFA's Player of the Year at the end of last month, being awarded the title ahead of football greats Lionel Messi, of Barcelona, and Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo.

After helping Liverpool win the Champions League last season and finish runners up to Manchester City in the Premier League title race, Van Dijk is also up for FIFA's The Best gong. And again among the nominees are Messi and Ronaldo.

Van Dijk, who also won last season's PFA Player of the Year, told Algemeen Dagblad: "Whatever comes out, it won't change me.

“Look, you can't compare me as a football player with (Lionel) Messi or (Cristiano) Ronaldo. I think the only thing you can try is to compare the impact we have had on our teams. And even that is very difficult.

"I am especially pleased that there is appreciation for defenders. That we are being looked at differently. And that there can be a reward for all the dirty work that has been done."

Van Dijk is quick to highlight the contribution of teammates to his success - both with Liverpool and The Netherlands. The defender, who kicked off his career with Willem II ten years ago, admits the individual recognition is reliant on winning trophies with his team.

He added, "This is thanks to the boys from Liverpool and Oranje. You really only win these prizes if you have achieved success together."

No matter what happens, Van Dijk insists he will accept the title proudly should he win The Best trophy.

He explained: “Do I deserve it? What I think is that we have had a fantastic year. We were also able to win the Super Cup back in August. It just feels great. A defender does not often win individual prizes. I think Fabio Cannavaro was the last in 2006. Maybe it is time for a defender again."

- updated September 23

About the author

Paul Vegas

Have your say

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

  1. Go Ad-Free
  2. Faster site experience
  3. Support great writing
  4. Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free