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Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk with the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year and Champions League Defender of the Season awards at a ceremony in Monaco.ERIC GAILLARD/Reuters

UEFA’s player of the year awards have gone to defenders, with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Lyon’s Lucy Bronze handed the accolade.

Van Dijk won the men’s award after helping Liverpool win its sixth European title in June. It is the latest individual acknowledgment for the Dutchman, who was voted player of the year by his fellow professionals in England last season.

Van Dijk, who joined Liverpool from Southampton in 2018 for 75 million pounds (then around $100 million), beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the honour at a ceremony in Monaco.

The 28-year-old Van Dijk says he hopes there is now “a little bit more appreciation” for defenders.

Bronze has won back-to-back Women’s Champions League titles with Lyon. She also helped England reach the semifinals of the World Cup last month.

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