As expected, European champions Liverpool dominated the recently concluded UEFA yearly awards. The awards were held along with the Champions League group stage draw at Monaco on Thursday.
Liverpool centre-back Virgin van Dijk stole the limelight at the ceremony as he bested Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus to claim the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award. The Dutch centre-back secured 305 points, ahead of Messi’s tally of 207 points. Ronaldo was far behind in the third spot with only 74 points. Alisson Becker and Sadio Mane of Liverpool completed the top five. Van Dijk was a key player for the Reds last season as they won their sixth Champions League crown in a fashionable manner. He was also judged Man of the Match in his side’s 2-0 win over Tottenham in the Champions League final. Furthermore, during the 2018-19 season, Van Dijk was a part of more clean sheets than any other defender in the top five leagues in Europe.
The vote was decided by a jury, which consisted of 80 coaches of sides that participated in Champions League Europa League last season, and 55 European journalists picked by the European Sports Media (ESM). Each UEFA member nation was represented by a single journalist in the poll. Every member of the jury was required to pick his top three options for the award, with first choice receiving five points, the second three and the third one.
UEFA Women’s Player of the Year
On the night, other footballers were also recognized for their efforts in European football last season.
Lyon and England right-back Lucy Bronze became the first defender to win the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year award. Bronze won Women’s Champions League, French League and French Cup with Lyon last season. She was also a star player for the Three Lions in the Women’s World Cup and won the Silver Ball accolade.
Among other individual awards, Lionel Messi of Barcelona won the Forward of the Year accolade. The Argentinean was unsuccessful in leading his side to another Champions League trophy, but he was instrumental in their La Liga success.
Liverpool shot-stopper Alisson Becker was adjudged the best keeper in Europe last season. The Brazilian joined the Merseyside club last summer, and since his arrival, he has become one of the first names to feature in Jurgen Klopp’s starting eleven. Alisson, who also won Premier League Golden Glove last season, defeated Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona) and Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) in the poll. It wasn’t really a surprise when Virgil van Dijk also claimed the UEFA Defender of the Season honour.
Frenkie de Jong won the Midfielder of the Season award for his performances for semi-finalists Ajax. The 22-year-old, who joined Barcelona during the summer, claimed the honour with an overwhelming majority of votes. He also won the domestic double with his former club in 2018-19.