Virgil Van Dijk 'feeling good' after beating attacking stars to win Player of the Year honours
Liverpool centre-back Virgil Van Dijk was last night named the Professional Footballers' Association's Players' Player of the Year for 2019 after a stellar season for the Reds.
Van Dijk succeeds team-mate Mohamed Salah in winning the award after seeing off tough competition from Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling.
Sterling had the consolation of being named Young Player of the Year, following in the footsteps of City team-mate Leroy Sane.
Van Dijk signed for Liverpool from Southampton for £75million in January 2018 and has been an ever-present rock at the heart of the Premier League's tightest defence this campaign.
The 27-year-old has helped Liverpool keep 19 clean sheets and concede only 20 times, while also chipping in with three goals.
Liverpool have lost just one game in the Premier League this season in a title race with champions Manchester City which is set to go down to the final day of the season.
Van Dijk was chosen from a shortlist made up of team-mate Sadio Mane, the Manchester City trio of Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard — leaving the Dutchman doubly delighted to see a defender acknowledged.
“I think it’s special, definitely,” he said. “If you see the standard of strikers we have in the league or playmakers we have in the league, it’s unbelievable.
“If you see the shortlist and quality there is, it’s very special that the players in the league voted for me. I won’t take it for granted. It’s just very special.
“I think throughout the whole season I’ve been feeling great. We’ve been winning many games, we are competing with Man City for the title and I think the most important thing is to stay fit and play consistent as well — I think I’ve been doing that pretty well this season.
“Obviously without the help of my team-mates, it wouldn’t be possible but we have just to keep going, carry on and I’m feeling good.”
Sterling (below) has received acclaim both for his impressive displays on the pitch and for taking an active role in highlighting football’s continued problem with racism.
The 24-year-old came out on top from a young player shortlist which also included team-mate Silva, Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, Bournemouth’s David Brooks and West Ham’s Declan Rice.
Arsenal Women forward Vivianne Miedema won the women’s award after scoring 22 times to lead the Gunners to their first league title since 2012.
Miedema had also been nominated for the Young Player of the Year award but that went to Manchester City forward Georgia Stanway.