Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk has been described as the Professional Footballers Association Player of the year. The Dutchman confronted tough competition from Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling for taking the honor and succeeds his Liverpool teammate Mohammed Salah, who acquired the award in the last year.

Van Dijk, who made an agreement with Liverpool from Southampton for $75m in January in 2018, is the first defender for winning PFA Player of the Year since Chelsea’s John Terry in 2005. The 27-year old has played in all of 35 league games of Liverpool in this session, assisting the reds to a league-best 19 clean sheets, having taken on board just 20 goals.

Liverpool has only lost one game while the current Premier League campaign and are just a point behind champions Manchester City in one of the closest title races in years.

Following his award-winning, Van Dijk said, “it’s pretty difficult to put into words.

“I think it’s the highest honor you can get as a player to get voted player of the year by the players you play against every week. It’s special. I’m very proud and honored to receive it ”.

He added, “if you see the standard of strikers or play-makers we have in the league, it’s unbelievable.”

He also added,” If you see the shortlist and quality there is, it’s very special that the players in the league voted for me. I won’t take it for granted. It’s just very special.”.

Liverpool and Manchester City players controlled the shortlist for the Player of the Year Award for this year, with Van Dijk’s teammate Sadio Mane, Sergio Aguero, Bernado  Silva and Eden Hazard of Chelsea all in contention.

Sterling was pondered Van Dijk’s main competition for the prize, with England forward attaining 17 goals and making 10 helpers in his 31 league appearances for Pep Guardiola’s side. And despite missing out on the direct award, the 24-year-old City star named PFA Young Player of the Year.

Vivianne Miedema won the Player of the Year award for Women after scoring 22 times for leading Arsenal Women to their first league title since 2021. Young Player of the Year award for women went to Manchester City forward Georgia Stanway.

The Special Achievement award of PFA was won by Manchester City and England captain Steph Houghton.

Houghton has been one of the prime lights in the English women’s game and has extracted praise from coach Phil Neville for her handling of difficulties in her personal life. Her husband, former Liverpool midfielder  Stephen Darby, who has been diagnosed with motor neuron disease last year and she has described that she would give up her place at his summer’s World Cup Finals for caring for him if necessary, though he has said he will not let her do that.

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