The Liverpool defender’s outstanding form for club and country last season – which included Champions League glory, 97 points in the Premier League and a Nations League final appearance – saw him pip Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the prize.
Van Dijk was announced as the recipient of the honour at the draw for the 2019-20 Champions League group stage, in Monaco on Thursday evening.
The winner was decided by a vote of the 80 coaches of the teams in the group stages of the Champions League and Europa League in 2018-19, plus one journalist from each of UEFA’s 55 member associations.
The Netherlands international had earlier picked up the Champions League Defender of the Season accolade for his performances en route to the Reds clinching a sixth European Cup in Madrid.
Following Liverpool’s 2017/18 final defeat by Real Madrid, Van Dijk had every reason for nerves ahead of the 2019 decider, but his concentration did not waver. He shut out the opposition and was named man of the match as his side edged out Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid.
Fearless since arriving from Southampton in January 2018, Van Dijk kept more clean sheets than any defender in Europe’s top five leagues in 2018/19. While Liverpool fell short in the Premier League, his solid presence (and occasional goalscoring efforts) provided the platform for a sixth European Cup.