Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has thanked his supporters and insists that it was an “honour” to be nominated alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the 2019 Ballon d’Or award. The Reds defender has been brilliant over the last 18 months for club and country.
Van Dijk went into this week's event as a slight favourite to pick up his first ever Ballon d’Or award having starred in Liverpool's Champions League triumph and ultimately unsuccessful Premier League title fight.
But in the afternoon, a photo which was leaked to Twitter appeared to show that Messi would be announced as the winner in the evening, with Van Dijk in second.
And that’s exactly what happened, as Van Dijk's Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah came third, with Juventus forward Ronaldo in fourth place.
Virgil van Dijk makes Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo statement after Ballon d'Or furore
Ronaldo didn’t attend the event - instead picking up a pair of Serie A awards in Italy - and neither did Sadio Mane, who came fifth.
Van Dijk was sent a furious message on social media by Ronaldo’s sister after the Dutchman made a joke on the red carpet that the Portuguese wasn’t a rival of his.
But the negativity hasn’t stopped the former Celtic man from releasing a touching statement to all his fans, friends and family.
“It was a great privilege to attend the 2019 Ballon d’Or last night,” the statement read.
“I was humbled by the warm reception that I received in Paris and I’d like to say thank you to everyone who made us feel so welcome.
“Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Lionel Messi on winning your historic sixth Ballon d’Or.
“As I also said last night at the ceremony, it’s important to sit back and admire greatness when it’s in front of you.
“Congratulations on another incredible year. On a personal level, it was an honour to be nominated and I am extremely proud to have come second and in the same company as two if the greatest to ever play the game in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“We’ve enjoyed some good battles this year and I hope there will be many more to come.
“I hope there will be many more to come. I am proud of my journey and I hope that my route in the game can help inspire others to always believe in yourself and to never give up on your dreams.
“I am hungry for more success on the pitch and will be working as hard as I can to keep improving and to continue to strive to be the best that I can be.
“It’s been an incredible 2019 so far but none of this would be possible without the love and support of my family, thank you for always being there.
“I must also say a huge thank you again to all of my team-mates.
“Finally thank you to everyone in the football world for all of your messages of support, it means a lot to me and my family.”