Ronaldo was absent from the ceremony.
And van Dijk took the time to make a light-hearted joke at his expense.
Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk was in Paris on Monday night as he was voted runner-up in the Ballon d’Or awards to Lionel Messi, who collected his sixth prize. Ronaldo came third in the running but he was not present at the ceremony, preferring not to witness his rival move ahead of him in the record books.
It was van Dijk’s first time on the podium but he raised some eyebrows with a light-hearted troll of Ronaldo as he made his way into the ceremony. “Cristiano won’t be here, so that’s already one one rival less,” said the interviewer. But Van Dijk replied with a smile: “Was he a rival then?”
Shade to Ronaldo for skipping out— Dylan Oriundo (@OriundoDylan) December 2, 2019
Reporter : “Cristiano won’t be here, so that’s already one 1 rival less.”
Van Dijk: “Was he a rival then?”
VVD really is Messi FC#Messi #BallonDor2019 pic.twitter.com/umHGRTNvig
This did not go down well with everyone, least of all Ronaldo’s sister Katia, who slammed the Liverpool defender in a lengthy rant on Instagram. Alongside a picture of Ronaldo scoring his stunning overhead kick against Juventus in the Champions League two seasons ago, she wrote: “Now, dear Virgil, where you are going, Cristiano Ronaldo has gone and has come a thousand times.”
View this post on Instagram
Another to take the remark out of context was Good Morning Britain host and Arsenal fan Piers Morgan, who wrote on Twitter alongside Van Dijk’s quote: “No.. @Cristiano is a far greater player, you’re not in his league.” That prompted a response from Van Dijk, with the Dutchman insisting he meant no disrespect towards Ronaldo and urging people to listen to the whole interview.
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 😀— Virgil van Dijk (@VirgilvDijk) December 2, 2019