Van Dijk votes City’s Sterling, Sterling becomes PFA player of the year

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In a very uncomfortable interview sequence, Virgil van Dijk revealed he voted for his main rival for Player of the Year, Raheem Sterling, but the Manchester City star didn't return the favour.

"I voted for Raheem Sterling", Van Dijk told reporters. "I think they had a couple of injuries to big players and some changes, also we were clinical with our goals and maybe lucky, but they definitely improved and so have we". But I'm just being honest.

"I think all of the teams of the league would love to be in our position right now. We will see if he wins it".

PFA rules prohibit players from voting for their teammates.

When asked by BT Sport which player got his vote, Sterling could not initially remember, before saying "I think I voted for Harry Kane".

Sterling has earned his peers' respect and their votes not only because of his on-pitch exploits but also off it, as an increasingly prominent campaigner against racism in football.

"Of course, you're going to be proud, but all the hard work in the training ground - that is something we all did together to win something as a team, a collective thing as a club", he said.

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After all, the Dutchman marked the occasion by helping his then-new club to a remarkable 5-0 win over FC Porto at Estadio do Dragao in the Round of 16 a year ago.

"Obviously no-one wants to concede, I don't want to concede goals, but sometimes it happens and at this point we've found a way every time and hopefully we can keep that going".

On Monday, the England worldwide issued a defiant message to racists that he was "proud to be black".

"Individual trophies? I don't know", he added.

"I wouldn't personally agree with it (leaving the field)". I would rather go and win the game because that would hurt them even more.

The interviewer then said: 'Virgil voted for you'. One hundred per cent he is the player of the year.