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Virgil van Dijk Clarifies Joke on Ronaldo's Absence at Ballon d'Or Ceremony After Backlash

Virgil van Dijk's joke on Cristiano Ronaldo did not turn out well for him. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Virgil van Dijk's joke on Cristiano Ronaldo did not turn out well for him. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Virgil van Dijk joked about Cristiano Ronaldo not being a competition but had to clarify after being blasted on social media.

Liverpool and the Netherlands defender Virgil van dijk took to Twitter to clarify his comment after he was blasted on Twitter for questioning if Cristiano Ronaldo was even a rival during the Ballon d'Or ceremony.

Van Dijk was one of the major contenders for this year's Ballon d'Or but finished second behind Lionel Messi and ahead of Ronaldo to cap his brilliant year with Liverpool. Messi won a record sixth Ballon d'Or award.

Before going in for the ceremony, van Dijk was asked by the interviewers, "Cristiano Ronaldo won't be here tonight, so that's already one less rival to care about?"

To this question, van Dijk quipped, "Was Cristiano Ronaldo really a rival?"

This comment of his was picked up by English journalist Piers Morgan, who blasted the defender saying, "No.. @Cristiano is a far greater player, you're not in his league."

This prompted van Dijk to take to Twitter in order to clarify his comment. He replied to Morgan's comment saying he made a joke and nothing else.

"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," van Dijk tweeted.

Having starred in the Liverpool team that won the Champions League, Van Dijk finished second to Messi just as he did in the voting for FIFA's equivalent prize, The Best, in September.

"Unfortunately there are a couple of players like him who are a bit unnatural. Six times Ballon d'Or -- you need to respect greatness as well," said Van Dijk.

Van Dijk was one of four Liverpool players in the top 10, with Sadio Mane fourth, Mohamed Salah fifth and goalkeeper Alisson seventh. The latter won a new prize for the goalkeeper of the year, named after former USSR icon Lev Yashin.

(With AFP inputs)
first published:December 03, 2019, 11:14 IST