Virgil van Dijk lauded Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s impact on his development after winning the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award.
Liverpool defender Van Dijk claimed the top prize at Sunday’s event in London, edging out team-mate Sadio Mane, Chelsea star Eden Hazard and Manchester City trio Bernardo Silva, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling – who won the Young Player of the Year award.
Van Dijk has been in towering form for the Reds – who he joined from Southampton in January 2018 – this season, helping Klopp’s side to 20 clean sheets in the Premier League, scoring three goals.
And the Dutchman thanked Klopp for helping to develop his career, as he became the first defender to win the award since John Terry in 2005.
“He’s helped a lot. Obviously he made sure that I can play for Liverpool together with the guys behind the scenes,” Van Dijk said.
“He is a fantastic manager and also a fantastic human being, and I think that really helps the club. He is there also to get at us basically when we need it as well.
“It’s unbelievable. To win this award, voted by players you play against week in week out. It’s the highest honour you can get, so I’m really proud
“It’s great to get recognition from other players. Defending is as important as attacking and this year we’ve been doing brilliantly with the boys. It’s been a good season, we’ll see how it ends.
“I try to read the game as well as I can. I don’t want to overcommit in dangerous situations so I let Robbo [Andy Robertson] do the work! I love playing for Liverpool, I am proud to wear the shirt.”
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah won the same award last year, and Klopp was delighted to be celebrating one of his players winning the prize once again.
“I am really proud for the second year in a row that I can speak about a wonderful player winning the Player of the Year,” Klopp said.
“Virgil van Dijk, who would have thought that when he started back in Holland! Everybody saw immediately what kind of player hides in that giant body.
“I am really happy that I can be a little bit around that development. I would love to think it’s because of me, but obviously it’s not!”
Liverpool face Barcelona in a Champions League semi-final on Wednesday, and round off their Premier League season with games against Newcastle United and Wolves