Jurgen Klopp feels Virgil van Dijk’s UEFA Player of the Year Award belongs to the whole Liverpool squad, but he also issued lofty individual praise.
Van Dijk beat off competition from the two best players in the world – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – for the honour.
The Dutchman paid tribute to his team-mates when accepting the award, and Klopp echoed those sentiments.
“It’s really big,” the boss told liverpoolfc.com. “I wanted to call him immediately but he had to go on stage.
“I’m so happy for him; I’m happy for us as well because he knows that without the boys around him, he cannot win that prize.
“It’s a prize for all of us – but we send our big man there to get it. It’s big.
Klopp also saw the symbolic significance in a defender getting such lofty recognition, when traditionally the prizes go to goalscorers.
Van Dijk, it seems, is good enough to change perceptions.
“It’s really rare for a defender,” he said. “It’s such important information for football, such an important sign for football.
“Yes, we all love goals – we want to score them and see them – but more and more and more people get excited about defending.
“Virg is an exceptional defender, in the moment 100 per cent the best defender in the world, so he deserves that prize absolutely.
“It’s now the icing on the cake of the Champions League campaign last year.
“It’s really big and I’m completely happy for him and his family.
Klopp also hailed Alisson after he was named Goalkeeper of the Year.
He dubbed the Brazilian the no.1 ‘keeper in the world and stressed that his presence was vital throughout last season, particularly in the Champions league final.
“I would say well, well, well deserved,” he said. “He had exceptional saves. In the final he made it look like all these finishes of Tottenham were so easy to save them – but they were not.
“He kept his nerves, calmed the game down in the right moment, made it quick in the right moment, saved our lives so often.
“So it’s so deserved. In the first season with us and immediately winning the Champions League. What a year he had, he won the Champions League, won the Copa America and now is the best goalie of last year 100 per cent.
“For me, he is the best goalie in the world in the moment. We just have to make sure it stays like this.
“He is now injured; when he is back, we are all waiting for that already, even when Adrian is doing an incredible job.”
The double victory emphasised the supreme, world-beating quality within Liverpool’s ranks.
“Sending two players there and both winning the competition they are in, it’s big,” Klopp noted. “It’s a really big day for Liverpool.”