The UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award was established all the way back in the 1997-98 season and that year it was given to the one and only Ronaldo, then playing for Inter.Midfielders like David Beckham, Fernando Redondo, Stefan Effenberg, Deco and Steven Gerrard took home the prize having subsequently starred in Champions League-winning teams for Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Porto and Liverpool, respectively, while goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was also given it in 2003 even though Juventus lost the final on penalties to AC Milan.The prize’s format changed for the 2010-11 season and became the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year instead. Andres Iniesta had an outstanding 2011-12, even if Chelsea beat Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals, and his form in Spain’s Euro 2012 win saw him rightly rewarded for his efforts. Article continues below Editors’ Picks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream But these prizes have often been a carve up of the most creative players and the heaviest goalscorers. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have shared a few between them while all-time greats like Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Diego Milito and Franck Ribery have got their hands on it too.Those were goalscoring or playmaking stars for some of the top clubs in Europe, while Luka Modric’s prize last year could be seen in hindsight as a commendation for a career’s worth of consistency, centrality to the Real Madrid cause and for taking Croatia to the World Cup final.It is a measure of Virgil van Dijk’s standing in the game that he has just become the first defender to win UEFA’s top individual playing prize.”It’s big,” Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp enthused. ” It’s really rare for a defender. It’s 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 are getting excited about defending.”Virg is an exceptional defender, 100 per cent the best defender in the world, so he deserves that prize absolutely.”Klopp is dead right: centre-backs are not often in the running for these prizes; Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 and Matthias Sammer a decade earlier standing out as the only two examples in the history of the modern game of Ballon d’Or winning-defenders.Players in that part of the pitch are expected to be unfussy, to get through their work diligently and to set the platform for the matchwinners further forward to do their thing.Times are changing in football, however. The emphasis on the collective in the very top teams mean fewer and fewer are operating with outright superstars, around whom the rest of the team is slotted. And, perhaps, in years to come fewer of those will win the individual prizes too.The top managers like Klopp and Premier League winner Pep Guardiola prefer to have players who submit to the will of the team, operate within a system and who are not self-obsessed when it comes to goals and trinkets.Liverpool have instead mastered their collective game. While players like Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane can be relied upon to score with consistency, they do so within a collective game plan that places them at the business end.There were eyebrows raised a couple of summers back when Liverpool declined to pursue any sort of centre-back once Southampton put the brakes on a move for Van Dijk.It was better to make no signing than the wrong signing in the mind of Klopp and so the likes of Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip got another try. Liverpool did patch things up with Southampton, however, and got their man a few months later for a fee of £75 million ($91m) which, at the time, looked on the high side but in retrospect looks a bargain.It wasn’t any £75m centre-back that Klopp wanted. He wanted his £75m centre back. Michael Edwards, the Liverpool sporting director, heads a recruitment team which has brought home the goods time and again.Van Dijk’s club-mate Alisson Becker also took to the stage on Monaco, to collect the Best Goalkeeper prize. What is remarkable to think is that Liverpool effectively spent very little on the pair, with the £142m ($173m) that Barcelona paid for Philippe Coutinho covering both purchases.Think about Barca’s current predicament. They got €222m (£201m/$245m) for Neymar from Paris St-Germain and did nothing of use with it. The purchase of Coutinho was a dud from the get-go, while Ousmane Dembele could well be used as a makeweight to get Neymar back to Camp Nou. What a mess!It speaks to the intelligence Liverpool have put into their transfers during the Klopp era and of the confidence they have that they are doing things the right way.Van Dijk’s award should be considered in that context. Liverpool have given him the platform to demonstrate his class, his consistency, his strength and his vision.And he has given Liverpool the bedrock they needed for a sixth European Cup. Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the web
NEW YORK, NY, July 18, 2018 — Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: LIND; “Lindblad”, the “Company”), the global leader of expedition cruises and adventure travel experiences, today announced that its Board of Directors has authorized the building of a new polar expedition ship. This state-of-the-art vessel, which is anticipated to be delivered in 2021, will be the next phase of Lindblad’s fleet expansion following the launch of the National Geographic Quest in July 2017, the addition of the National Geographic Venture in December 2018 and the delivery of the National Geographic Endurance in the first quarter of 2020. As demand for high quality and authentic expedition travel continues to accelerate, both through market expansion as well as from sustained investment in their marketing and sales infrastructure, Lindblad is committed to expanding capacity to provide a growing audience with the opportunity to explore the world’s most unique and remote locations. This will be the fourth polar vessel in the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic fleet, joining the National Geographic Explorer and the National Geographic Orion, currently in operation, and the National Geographic Endurance, which is scheduled for delivery in early 2020. The new vessel will be designed as the ultimate expedition platform with a focus on immersing our guests in these amazing geographies. Sven-Olof Lindblad, President and Chief Executive Officer, said “We are extremely excited to announce the further expansion of our expedition fleet. This is the next step of our long-term growth strategy to capitalize on the expanding demand for high quality adventure travel. By marrying additional capacity with a dedicated and growing loyal customer base and fifty years of experience, we will be able to build upon our proven track record of delivering unparalleled expeditions to the world’s most remarkable destinations.” About Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc.Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. is an expedition travel company that works in partnership with National Geographic to inspire people to explore and care about the planet. The organizations work in tandem to produce innovative marine expedition programs and to promote conservation and sustainable tourism around the world. The partnership’s educationally oriented voyages allow guests to interact with and learn from leading scientists, naturalists and researchers while discovering stunning natural environments, above and below the sea, through Forward Looking StatementsCertain matters discussed in this press release are “forward-looking statements” intended to qualify for the safe harbor from liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include the Company’s financial projections and may also generally be identified as such because the context of such statements will include words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “will,” “would” or words of similar import. Similarly, statements that describe the Company’s financial guidance or future plans, objectives or goals are also forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause results to differ materially from those expected, including, but not limited to, the following: (i) changes adversely affecting the business in which the Company is engaged; (ii) management of the Company’s growth and its ability to execute on its planned growth; (iii) general economic conditions; (iv) the Company’s business strategy and plans; (v) unscheduled disruptions in our business due to weather events, mechanical failures, or other events; (vi) compliance with laws and regulations; (vii) compliance with the financial and/or operating covenants in the Company’s Third amended and restated credit agreement; (viii) adverse publicity regarding the cruise industry in general; (ix) loss of business due to competition; (x) the result of future financing efforts; (xi) the inability to meet revenue and Adjusted EBITDA projections; (xii) delays and costs overruns with respect to the construction and delivery of newly constructed vessels; and (xiii) those risks described in the Company’s filings with the SEC. Stockholders, potential investors and other readers are urged to consider these factors carefully in evaluating the forward-looking statements and are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements made herein are made only as of the date of this press release and the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. More detailed information about factors that may affect the Company’s performance may be found in its filings with the SEC, which are available at http://www.sec.gov or athttp://www.expeditions.com in the Investor Relations section of the Company’s website.