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'It's a prize for all of us' - Van Dijk's UEFA award a team effort, says Klopp

6:32 PM EDT 8/29/19
Virgil van Dijk UEFA awards
The defender may have scooped up the UEFA Men's Player of the Year prize, but his manager insists it was a reward for all of the Anfield squad

Jurgen Klopp hailed Virgil van Dijk's UEFA Men's Player of the Year award as a prize for all of Liverpool's players.

Van Dijk enjoyed a supreme 2018-19 campaign, helping Liverpool to Champions League glory and captaining Netherlands to the Nations League final.

The former Southampton defender has maintained his form heading into this season and edged out superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the honour in Monaco on Thursday .

Klopp was quick to laud Van Dijk's individual displays but pointed out his triumph was one that would not be possible without all of Liverpool's squad.

"Brilliant! It's really big. I wanted to call him immediately, but he had to go on stage. I'm so happy for him," Klopp told Liverpool's official website .

"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 really rare for a defender. 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."

The awards ceremony took place after the Champions League draw, in which Liverpool were pitted against Napoli, who they will face in the group stage for the second straight season , Salzburg and Genk in the group stage.

Van Dijk's team-mate Alisson picked up the Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season accolade and Klopp had no doubt the Brazilian was worthy.

"I would say well, well, well deserved. He made exceptional saves," Klopp said.

"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."

Liverpool are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to Turf Moor to face Burnley in Premier League action.