On Monday night, Liverpool forward and Netherlands national team captain Virgil van Dijk lost the Ballon d’Or award to Argentina star Lionel Messi by a slender margin of 7 points. Meanwhile, Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo finished third in the race.

Though Van Dijk missed the coveted prize in the Ballon d’Or award ceremony in Paris, he feels that being in contention with the legends like Messi and Ronaldo is in itself an honour.

“On a personal level, it was an honour to be nominated and I am 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,” said Van Dijk on Twitter.

Notably, the award was Messi’s sixth Ballon d’Or and it is after four years that the Argentine has been recognised as the finest player on the planet. In between the years, Ronaldo won the award in 2016 and 2017 taking his total tally to five.

“Firstly, I would like to congratulate Lionel Messi on winning your historic sixth Ballon d’Or,” said the centre back.

“It was a great privilege to attend the ceremony. I was humbled by the warm reception that I received in Paris and I would like to say thank you to everyone who made us feel so welcome,” he added.

Had Van Dijk clinched the 2019 Ballon d’Or, he would have become the first defender to achieve the feat since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo, who was absent from the award ceremony in Paris, finished third in the 2019 vote and it was for the first time since 2011 that the forward failed to make a cut in the final two of Ballon d’Or.

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane finished fourth while his teammate Mohamed Salah won the fifth spot.