‘I’m extremely proud to have come second and in the same company as two of the greatest players to ever play the game’: Virgil van Dijk praises Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo following Ballon d’Or ceremony despite being criticised by Juventus star’s sister
- Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has praised Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
- Van Dijk finished as runner up in Ballon d’Or contest with Messi winning
- Defender was criticised by Ronaldo’s sister for a joke he made before ceremony
Van Dijk finished as runner-up, with Barcelona star Messi winning a record sixth Ballon d’Or. Ronaldo was in third place.
Before the ceremony van Dijk made a joke about Ronaldo’s absence.
Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk has praised Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
Messi, Ronaldo and van Dijk pictured at the Champions League draw in August this year
Asked about Ronaldo’s absence, the Dutchman jokingly replied: ‘Why? Was he a candidate?’.
That sparked an angry response from Ronaldo’s sister Katia Aveiro, who stated that the Juventus winger ‘will always be the best player in the world.’
However, van Dijk was eager to point out the respect that he has for both Messi and Ronaldo.
Van Dijk wrote on Twitter: ‘It was a great privilege to attend the 2019 Ballon d’Or last night.
‘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’m extremely proud to have come second and in the same company as two of the greatest players 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.’
van Dijk finished second in this year’s Ballon d’Or with Messi first and Ronaldo in third place
Van Dijk had to battle to establish himself as a top star, commencing his career at Groningen before moving to Celtic, Southampton and then Liverpool.
The 28-year-old says that he hopes his journey can inspire others to succeed in football.
He wrote: ‘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 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 have been 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 teammates at Liverpool and the national team.
‘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.’
Van Dijk’s comments about Ronaldo may have been in jest, but the winger’s sister certainly didn’t see the funny side.
Ronaldo’s sister wrote on Instagram: ‘I think there are people living completely frustrated!!! And unrealistic… such humility!’
‘Now, dear Virgil, where you are going, Cristiano Ronaldo has gone and has come a thousand times.
‘You see, my dear Virgil, that Cristiano Ronaldo was a tri-champion in the country where you have been playing for years and you still haven’t got your hand on the trophy.’
Ronaldo’s sister Katia Aveiro criticsed Van Dijk during a lengthy tirade on Instagram
Ronaldo’s sister was eager to point out areas in which the Portugal international had excelled in comparison to van Dijk.
‘Cristiano Ronaldo was even the best player and best scorer in the country where you play Virgil. By the way, he was even younger than you.
‘Then, dear Virgil, Cristiano Ronaldo went to other places and became the greatest player in the history of a club, Real Madrid. Tell you something Virgil? Maybe so, because this club, with this Cristiano guy, even beat you in the Champions League final.
‘Of these, Ronaldo already has 5, Virgil. And that fellow Ronaldo and team-mates, with the corners on his chest, crushed your “orange” in a final (Nations League final between Portugal and Holland).
Ronaldo’s sister claimed that the Portugal star ‘will always be the best player in the world’
‘Was it hard, Virgil? We have pity. And, dear Virgil, in one of the least successful times of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo has won even more titles than you. Awesome, isn’t it?
‘Now Virgil will win titles from those who really count and then we’ll talk. When you have a handful of them, the really important ones, you might be able to sit at the table with Cristiano. Or as they say in our land, it grows and appears!
‘It’s for me @cristiano you are and you will always be the best player in the world!!!’
Van Dijk has excelled at Liverpool since joining the club in January 2018 and helped the Reds to win the Champions League last season.
He will be aiming for further silverware this campaign, with Liverpool currently eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.