By Danny Gallagher For Mailonline
Published: 21:36 GMT, 2 December 2019 | Updated: 21:41 GMT, 2 December 2019
Virgil van Dijk was full of praise for the 'unnatural' Lionel Messi after narrowly losing out on the biggest individual prize in world football.
The Liverpool and Holland defender placed second in the Ballon d'Or stakes, as Messi picked up the prestigious honour for a record sixth time.
Nobody in football history has won the accolade more than Messi, and Van Dijk admitted the 'greatness' of the Barcelona superstar must be respected.
Virgil van Dijk attended the Ballon d'Or ceremony in Paris with his wife Rike Nooitgedagt
Lionel Messi scooped the main honour, winning the Ballon d'Or for a historic sixth time
Speaking in front of a star-studded crowd inside the iconic Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, Van Dijk admitted he never believed he would be in the running for such a huge solo prize.