Van Dijk makes Ballon D’Or admission; reveals Messi conversation

Virgil van Dijk has opened up on his disappointment at missing out on the Ballon D’Or, while revealing his relationship with some Liverpool legends.

Many thought van Dijk deserved to be named the best player of 2019 after helping Liverpool to the Champions League title, but he was beaten to the crown by Lionel Messi.

After adding another medal to his cabinet on Saturday as the Reds won the Club World Cup, van Dijk admitted he thought he could have won the prestigious individual award.

“I was slightly disappointed,” he said (as quoted by the Mirror). “I decided I would still go to the ceremony – and, in the end, it was a super night.

“I still consider it a great achievement to be up there with the ­biggest football icons in the world.

“I spoke to Messi during the ­evening. It was not the longest ­conversation because he doesn’t speak a lot of English.

“But it was still enough to make me realise that the respect between us now also runs the other way.”

Of course, football is a team game, and van Dijk turned the spotlight towards some of his teammates and the spirit that exists between them.

“At almost every club, you find that there are lots of different little groups in a squad.

“But this Liverpool bunch is ­phenomenally close together. In my opinion, Liverpool are one big ­family – and that is why this club suits me so much.

“James Milner says the same thing – and he has played at big clubs like Man City, Newcastle United and Aston Villa.

“That’s why this club is great for me. The people are all ­humble. The legends of the great days – such as Kenny ­Dalglish and Ian Rush – travel with us during ­European weeks.

“Dalglish even sends me texts on my phone and we will have a chat at times.

“When I go to see my family after a match, I go by the boardroom and it is always full of former top players.

“But we can also have a laugh and a joke about each other.

“Do you know who is the ­funniest in the team? Sadio Mane. He comes out with crazy things and always cracks us up. Sadio is the funny man in the team, but Andy Robertson can’t keep his mouth still and James Milner is a special one in the house as well.”

 

Van Dijk also highlighted the value of Dutch compatriot Georginio Wijnaldum to the Liverpool dressing room, revealing an inspirational moment from before their Champions League triumph.

“Gini is a ­brilliant man when it comes to ­giving a speech.

“When we were about to go on to the pitch for the biggest game of the year in Madrid, suddenly it was Gini who said, ‘Hang on, boys, let’s all get together here’.

“We formed a tight circle right there in the dressing room and Gini started to talk.

“He said all the right things, he really went for it and I could feel I was getting a lump in my throat.

“It was so special what he said – and it was so perfect.

“Gini is such a warm person.”

 

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