Liverpool’s imperious Dutch centre-back Virgil van Dijk and Lyon and England star Lucy Bronze have claimed UEFA Player of the Year honours, announced at the Champions League group stage draw in Monaco.

Van Dijk also took out the award for UEFA Defender of the Year, while teammate Alisson Becker, Frenkie de Jong and Lionel Messi won the UEFA Goalkeeper, Midfielder and Forward of the Year awards respectively.

The Reds’ no.4 capped off a stellar campaign in which he led the Netherlands to the UEFA Nations League final and lifted the European Cup with his club with this deserved recognition.

The 28-year-old, who beat Messi and Ronaldo to the honour, said he was “very proud” to receive the accolade while praising his teammates, without whom he said “I would not have achieved what I have achieved”.

This continued van Dijk’s incredible stint at Liverpool thus far, and bodes well for his chances at claiming the Ballon d’Or at the end of the year.

Bronze enjoyed her best season to date, lifting a magnificent treble with Lyon at club level before guiding England to a Women’s World Cup semi-final, claiming the tournament’s Silver Ball as the second-best player.

In a video from the Lionesses training base, Bronze reserved high praise for her teammates, including fellow Lyon stars Ada Hegerberg and Amandine Henry that she pipped to the gong.

“I think any one of those girls could have been up her receiving this award,” she said.

Her World Cup campaign drew glowing praise from coach Phil Neville, who admitted that she was performing at right-back to a level far greater than he ever reached in his career with Manchester United and Everton.



Nick Hughes