Liverpool centre- back Virgil van Dijk was named as England ’ s PFA Player of the Year for 2019 on Sunday.
Van Dijk succeeded Liverpool team – mate Mohamed Salah in winning the award, voted for by his fellow players and saw off competition from Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling .
But Sterling , 24, was named the Professional Footballers ’ Association Young Player of the Year , following on from City colleague Leroy Sane .
Van Dijk joined Liverpool from Southampton for £ 75 million ( $ 97 million , 87 million euros ) in January 2018.
The 27 – year – old Dutchman has been an ever- present for Liverpool in their bid to dethrone City as Premier League champions this season , with Sterling ’ s side one point clear of the Reds at the top of the table with just two games left to play .
Van Dijk has starred in a hugely improved Liverpool defence that has kept 20 clean sheets and conceded a mere 20 goals in the current campaign .
“ It’ s pretty difficult to put into words, ” said Van Dijk , the first defender to win the award since Chelsea ’ s John Terry 14 years ago.
“ I think it ’ s the highest honour 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 honoured to receive it . ”
Van Dijk , who also has a Champions League semi – final against Barcelona to look forward to this week , added :
“ If you see the standard of strikers or playmakers we have in the league, it ’ s unbelievable . ”
England international Sterling has been praised both for his on- field performances and a willingness to speak out about football ’ s continuing problems with racism .
Arsenal Women forward Vivianne Miedema won the Women ’ s Player of the Year award after scoring 22 times to lead the Gunners to their first title since 2012 , with her and Van Dijk completing a Dutch double .
The north London side were crowned champions with a 4 – 0 win away to Brighton on Sunday.
Miedema was also nominated for the Young Player of the Year award won by Manchester City forward Georgia Stanway .
Miedema said : “I ’ m obviously really proud to represent my team here . I think we’ ve had an amazing year , especially with winning the league today . ”
Meanwhile , the PFA ’ s special achievement award went to Manchester City and England captain Steph Houghton .
The 31 – year – old defender is set to skipper the Lionesses at this year ’ s World Cup in France .
But Houghton has said she could miss the tournament in order to care for her husband , former Liverpool midfielder Stephen Darby , who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease last year .
Darby , however, is determined Houghton takes her place in manager Phil Neville ’ s squad