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Van Dijk: Its a special feeling to be honoured by your peers

Virgil Van Dijk has been recognised for his outstanding season by being crowned the PFA player of the year at a ceremony in London on Sunday evening.

The Dutchman who has missed just 35 minutes of league action for the Reds in 2018/9, beat a elite field including teammate Sadio Mane, Sergio Aguero. Raheem Sterling and Eden Hazard to win the award.

While there seemed to be a orchestrated campaign for Sterling to claim the award, the overwhelming weight of numbers showed just what impact Virgil has made this season.

In truth, he is the complete player.

Dominant in terms of aerial battles won where he leads the league (76.43%)  he is also elite in regards to headed and general clearances.

While he is the leader of the best defence in the league, who have conceded just 20 goals so far in this campaign.

But he more than matches it at ground level where only Chelsea midfielder Jorginho has made more passes this season (2,847).

Add his contribution at the other end of the pitch in terms of goals scored and you get the picture of his overall influence.

The magnitude of claiming the honour certainly hit Van Dijk in the aftermath of the ceremony.

The Official site reported Van Dijk as saying:

"It’s pretty difficult to put it into words. "It’s special. I’m obviously very proud and honoured to win it.

Van Dijk became only the third defender to win the honour in the Premier League era behind Paul McGrath (1992/3) and John Terry (2004/5).

The central defender said he saw it as a real honour that that he was recognised by his peers.

"If you see the shortlist – what kind of quality there is – I think it’s the highest honour you can get as a player – to be voted Player of the Year by the players you play against every week. It’s special. I’m obviously very proud and honoured to win it.

The consummate team man, Van Dijk was quick to give praise to his teammates and went into detail about what has made them such a strong unit this season.

"Obviously without the help of my teammates it wouldn’t be possible.

"I think the key is that the way we defend is to do it altogether. 

"Defending starts up front. How our strikers put pressure on defenders is unbelievable.

"I don’t want to be put under pressure by those kinds of players. And even if they beat that press, we still have a midfield that keeps hunting you down at all times. 

"It makes it a lot easier for us as a back four, with the goalkeeper, to [not] be under pressure. But if we’re under pressure we still need to deal with it and I think that’s been going pretty well as well.

 

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Van Dijk said that while he is naturally happy with his current level of performance, his main goals relate to winning trophies and helping make the team as good as they can be.

"We definitely want to get a trophy. 

" Right now, we are in a tight title race, we’re in the Champions League semi-finals against a fantastic team who probably the best player is playing for. 

"But we just take it game by game. 

"Now it’s time to focus on Barcelona midweek and then we have a big game away at Newcastle as well. I won’t look too far ahead. 

"The only goals I will set are personal goals with Liverpool.

And long may that continue.


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