Virgil van Dijk has hit back at Piers Morgan after the Good Morning Britain, presenter criticised him over comments he made about Cristiano Ronaldo at tonight’s Ballon d’or 2019 ceremony.
Liverpool star Van Dijk finished second in the voting behind Lionel Messi, who moved one ahead of Ronaldo to claimed an outright record sixth Ballon d’Or prize.
Ronaldo snubbed the awards ceremony, having earlier posted a picture of himself in Lisbon after learning he had not won this year’s accolade. The Juventus star finished third.
Van Dijk had been tipped by many to win the Ballon d’Or after his hugely consistent performances at the back last season helped Liverpool win the Champions League and finish a nailbitingly close second to Manchester City in the Premier League.
While the Dutch defender didn’t win the prize, one thing he did achieve was to annoy Morgan with a throwaway comment about Ronaldo.
When it was put to him by a reporter before the ceremony that with Ronaldo missing he had one less rival to worry about, Van Dijk cheekily said: “Was Cristiano really a rival?”
Morgan was upset by that comment, tweeting: “No..@Cristiano is a far greater player, you’re not in his league.”
After the ceremony, Van Dijk pulled Morgan up on his reply, referring to comments he made during the ceremony about Messi and Ronaldo being “unnatural”.
Van Dijk tweeted: “Hi Piers, If you don’t jump on the social media bandwagon and would listen to the whole interview then you would know I made a joke, and only got respect for those 2.”
Interviewed during the ceremony after the winner had been announced, Van Dijk had referred to Messi and Ronaldo when he said: “It was an amazing year, but there’s a couple of players like that who are a bit unnatural.
“So you need to respect greatness as well.
“I was close, but there was just someone a little bit better.
“I’m very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool and Holland, and hopefully we can do that again this year. But that will be tough with those guys around here still.”
Messi and Ronaldo have dominated the award in recent times, sharing the trophy in 11 of the last 12 years.