The Liverpool manager has expressed his delight at seeing the ‘best defender in the world’ beat two greats of the game to claim the UEFA Men’s Best Player of the Year award.
Virgil van Dijk, on Thursday at the UEFA draw ceremony held in Monaco, pipped Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the prestigious honour, leaving his manager Klopp full of praise for him.
Liverpool’s shot stopper Alisson Becker was also named as the continent’s best goalkeeper following a spectacular season where the Reds won the UEFA Champions League and came real close to lifting the English Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp has described the awards as a prize for the whole Liverpool team who fought tooth and nail throughout a long season that took a lot from everyone at the club and not just the two winners.
“Brilliant!,” Klopp said about Virgil picking up Europe’s top award as well as the Best Defender prize, Soccernet.ng reports.
“It’s really big. I wanted to call him immediately but he had to go on stage. I’m so happy for him.
“I’m happy for us as well because he knows that without the boys around him, he cannot win that prize. It’s a prize for all of us – but we send our big man there to get it. It’s big. It’s really rare for a defender. It’s such important information for football, such an important sign for football. Yes, we all love goals – we want to score them and see them – but more and more and more people get excited about defending.
“Virg is an exceptional defender, in the moment 100 per cent the best defender in the world, so he deserves that prize absolutely. It’s now the icing on the cake of the Champions League campaign last year. It’s really big and I’m completely happy for him and his family.
On Alisson receiving the goalkeeper award, Jurgen Klopp said:
“Congratulations as well. I would say well, well, well deserved. He had exceptional saves. In the final he made it look like all these finishes of Tottenham were so easy to save them – but they were not. He kept his nerves, calmed the game down in the right moment, made it quick in the right moment, saved our lives so often. So it’s so deserved.
“In the first season with us and immediately winning the Champions League. What a year he had, he won the Champions League, won the Copa America and now is the best goalie of last year 100 per cent.
“For me, he is the best goalie in the world in the moment. We just have to make sure it stays like this. He is now injured; when he is back, we are all waiting for that already, even when Adrian is doing an incredible job. Sending two players there and both winning the competition they are in, it’s big. It’s a really big day for Liverpool.”