The jury comprised the 80 coaches of the clubs that participated in the group stages of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League (32) and UEFA Europa League (48), along with 55 journalists selected by the European Sports Media (ESM) group, one from each of UEFA’s member associations. Jury members picked their top three players, with the first receiving five points, the second three and the third one. Coaches were not allowed to vote for players from their own team.
Van Dijk testimonials, “You could write a book about Virgil van Dijk’s strengths and abilities. He is still young, but he’s so mature.”
Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool manager
“The ‘Swagger Don’. Virgil is suave on and off the pitch. He makes everything look easy, doesn’t he? When you’ve got him behind you, you’ve got that feeling of security. He’s been an absolute rock all season.”
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Liverpool midfielder
“He embodies the full picture of a defender: his radiance, the way he captains the group, his presence on the pitch, and also now the prizes – the Champions League was fantastic. He can be an example to anyone who wants to aspire to be the best.”
Ronald Koeman, Netherlands coach
What is the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award?
For this award, players in Europe, irrespective of nationality, were judged according to their performances over the whole season in all competitions – both domestically and internationally – at either club or national team level.
Van Dijk speaking after being presented with the accolade, 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. “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.”