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Name Virgil van Dijk
Gender Male
Ethnic Dutch
Job Dutch Footballer
Desc xxxx

Affiliation

Org Dutch National Team
Club as Player Liverpool FC
  Southampton
  Celtic FC
  Groningen
2013 06
Van Dijk moved to Celtic FC for £2.6m from Groningen on a four-year deal

2015 08 26 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk considers future after Celtic’s Champions League defeat to Malmo] Celtic is an amazing club and I’m very thankful for everything. But if the right opportunity comes then I’ll consider it. It’s a terrible way [to go] if it ends like this but I have a lot of great memories at the club

[Quizzed about the link with Southampton] I think you need to ask the board. I don’t know what will happen in the coming days. I’ve not been talking to anyone. Now that qualification is over we will wait and see. I’m not looking for anything. It’s a great place to be and they gave me an opportunity to show myself, so I’m very thankful for that

[The Dutchman apologised to fans after a tame loss to Malmo, with Celtic having led 2-0 just 10 minutes into the first leg] We knew there was pressure before the game and we told each other to be calm, take your moments and just play our game because we are better than them but we didn’t show it. They got the belief after the first goal, which was a foul in my opinion. After that, we had trouble keeping the ball and simple things went wrong. I’m a winner. I want to win every game I play. But we were poor and there is no excuse

2015 09 01 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk leaves Celtic for Southampton] I would like to thank all the Celtic fans for the magnificent support they have given me during my time at the club. Celtic is a brilliant football club; it will always be in my heart and I will always be a Celtic supporter myself

I know Celtic did not want me to leave and wanted to extend my contract. The club did everything to keep me and I appreciate that but I felt the time was right for a new challenge in the English Premier League. I thank everyone at the club, the manager and all the staff and I wish Celtic and the fans the very best for the future

2017 01 31
Virgil van Dijk had a fracture of the malleolus [an injury to the soft part of the ankle] that led to him missing the remainder of the season

2017 08 08 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk says he has handed in a transfer request to leave Southampton] I am incredibly ambitious and want to achieve as much as I possibly can to fulfil my potential in what is a very short career as a professional footballer. I want to play European football again and challenge for major honors and as such I would like Southampton to consider the interest in me from top clubs should it still exist

I have been left frustrated by the club’s position that I am not for sale and am disappointed that enquiries from multiple top clubs have been consistently rebuffed

Over the past six months I have held numerous discussions with representatives of the board, the former manager Claude Puel as well as the new manager Mauricio Pellegrino to inform them all of my desire to leave the club in search of a new challenge. I have consistently relayed my feelings to senior management at Southampton in what I believed to be private and personal conversations. Disappointingly, these conversations have regularly found their way into the media

2017 10 06 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk claims his interview with Dutch media were twisted by the English media] I have no regrets. Of course, I wanted to go one step up, but eventually Southampton did not want to let me go, but you’re a professional, so now I’ll give everything to the club. Halfway through the season, maybe we can see what’s possible

[In light of the negative backlash he has received, van Dijk told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that those words were taken out of context] I once felt at Celtic that my words were completely twisted. It’s annoying if something is misinterpreted, because people get a wrong picture of you. I came across as a spoilt brat who was only busy looking at options to make a transfer in winter, but I’m not. It was not my words and I would never say that. My focus is entirely on Southampton, I work hard on training and competitions and have respect for the club after what happened last summer

2018 08 13 Retrieve

[When asked how Alisson had settled in on Merseyside] Very good. We speak a lot. He’s very vocal and that helps. It helps me and everyone in the back line. I think his presence is very good as well. He has a lot of qualities on the ball that helps get us playing. We’ve worked on it the whole pre-season and we’ll keep practising. There’s still a lot to do.

The most important thing is that we look at ourselves. We know that right now we have a great squad. We have a lot of quality players. Everyone who plays for Liverpool has a lot of quality. It’s all about being consistent. We want to challenge for any competition. But we must look at ourselves

Of course we want to challenge. I do not feel any pressure in that case but we play every game to win, that’s how our mind-set is. Against West Ham our focus was good and now we recover before focusing on Crystal Palace, which is going to be a very tough game. It’s just one game. We had a good pre-season with good results and games where we’ve played very well. It was a very good performance, almost complete. Good goals, maybe we should have scored a bit more. Clean sheet, we kept it tight. Something to build on. But we can do a lot better and it’s just the start. I think the key is we need to be very consistent and do it every game

2018 11 24 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk explaining why he embraced referee Ovidiu Hategan after the Netherlands 2-2 draw with Germany] He broke down, stood with tears in his eyes because he had just lost his mother. I wished him strength and said he had refereed well. It’s a small thing, but I hope it helped him

2018 12 12 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk Defends Tackle on Dries Mertens After Carlo Ancelotti Comments] I don’t think it was a bad challenge at all. Unfortunately I touched him, but I would never go in to hurt him or anything like that. I had the ball and obviously the wet pitch you slide through and I touched him, but that’s football

2019 07 22 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk slammed Joris Gnagnon after the Sevilla man’s horror challenge on Yasser Larouci marred Liverpool’s pre-season friendly in Boston] I saw it from the side, it’s not nice. Especially when it happens against such a young guy who is playing pretty well this season. I think it says something about him. You have to just deal with it, but obviously you don’t want to have injuries in a game like this. You want to get fit, you want to get back to your best. Obviously everyone wants to win the game, but the most important thing is to get fit. Hopefully for Yasser it is not that bad

[A late Alejandro Pozo goal settled the game, with Divock Origi having earlier cancelled out Nolito’s opener, as Liverpool suffered their second defeat in the space of 48 hours] Obviously it’s very hard. But each day it gets better, and that’s the positive thing. Obviously the conditions are hard, the opponents are tough. But it’s all good, it will all make us stronger, so let’s just enjoy these last few days in America and then we go to Scotland [to play Napoli]

2019 07 23 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk admits winning the Ballon d’Or would be a dream come true after an exceptional season with Liverpool and the Netherlands] If people are talking about it - you can’t say it doesn’t [excite you]. But it’s a subject we don’t have any influence on. I can’t change anything right now other than get fit, stay fit and that’s the situation. Winning something like that is a dream come true for every footballer in the world. If you don’t then you just get on with it and try to perform better than last year. It would be fantastic and I would be very proud. But the main thing will be to focus on what we do all together and achieving the bigger goal - that’s getting silverware with the club.

2019 07 26 Retrieve

[Van Dijk, who was named the best player in the Premier League in 2018-19 by his peers, has welcomed the talk of him challenging the likes of Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi for a Golden Ball] To get the PFA Player of the Year is a fantastic honour, it’s the highest honour you can get because it’s voted by your fellow peers. I said it back then as well, I would trade it for the Champions League. Luckily, I didn’t have to. It’s an honour if people are talking about [the Ballon d’Or], but what can I do? I have no influence on anything. I can’t deny I had a pretty good season last year, so the only thing I can do now is just focus on the new season, getting fit, stay fit and hopefully get an even better season than I had last year. I can understand the fact that normally strikers or No. 10’s win these awards because it’s more attractive to see. But maybe the time has come to change it

: 2019 07 26b Eden Hazard and Virgil van Dijk have been chosen as the cover stars for FIFA 20, EA Sports have confirmed

2019 07 26c Retrieve

[Speaking of the honour of becoming the latest cover star for the new FIFA 20 game] It is a huge honour for me to be on the cover of FIFA 20. I’ve been playing FIFA for as long as I can remember and so it’s an extremely proud moment for me to be representing Liverpool FC on the cover of such an iconic game

2019 07 29 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk has warned Liverpool they will need big improvements before they take on Manchester City in the Community Shield this weekend] We have to be at our top level. If we play like that, we won’t win the Community Shield, it’s as simple as that. But we have a good week to prepare ourselves with a friendly as well, which is good for the boys who are coming back. We will definitely be ready for Man City.

[Van Dijk remembers last season’s camp as being key in terms of more than just fitness] Yeah, definitely. Last year we had a very tough camp over there. There was a lot of hard work and also a lot of tactical work as well. I expect a little bit of the same. Obviously our season starts properly on Sunday, so this week will make sure our heads are together and focused on City.

[Van Dijk, though, is unconcerned by such issues, and believes the current squad is capable of much more] There’s plenty more to come from the team. At times [against Napoli] we showed promising football as well, and there’s a reason why we are European champions. Everyone knows the players who are missing are important players for us. That’s a fact. But we have to deal with it in this situation. We have to stay calm, we want to win games, but Napoli was just a little bit better. The best thing is that it’s pre-season

2019 07 30 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk says that former Celtic team-mate Kieran Tierney has the necessary ability to be a success in the Premier League] It is not an easy step to make and you have to play well to do it. But Kieran has the qualities. Kieran made his debut against Dundee when I was at Celtic. I scored a free-kick up there and then he came on and helped us get the win

: 2019 07 31 Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk are among the 10 players nominated for FIFA’s The Best Men’s Player award. The shortlist, which takes into accounts achievements from July 16, 2018 to July 19, 2019, was compiled by a panel of experts and also comprises of former Ajax duo Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, Liverpool double act Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, Tottenham striker Harry Kane, Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard and PSG ace Kylian Mbappe

: 2019 08 04 Sunday’s Community Shield saw something that did not happen in the entirety of last year’s Premier League season. When Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus dribbled past Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk at Wembley Stadium, it was the first time the Netherlands international had been beaten on the dribble since Mikel Marino of Newcastle did so in March 2018, a run of 65 games

2019 08 05 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk has revealed that Jordan Henderson painted the picture of Liverpool which helped to convince him that a £75 million move to Anfield was his best choice] He painted the picture for me and made it easy to join. That summer when I made the decision until I actually joined the club, I had so many Liverpool fans coming up to me wherever I went - everywhere - telling me how much they wanted me to sign for the club. That gave me a bit of a feeling of how big Liverpool is and how passionate the supporters are. When you look at the Barcelona game [in last season’s Champions League semi-finals], the scenes from the parade in the city and you watch videos of them celebrating all over the world, it says everything. It’s unbelievable to be involved in something so special.

I think the minimum you can do at such a beautiful and big club is to give everything you’ve got and have no regrets when you leave the pitch because you know you did everything in your power to win the game. The fans appreciate that. That’s the mentality we all have in the squad; we will work every yard of the pitch and work for each other: it’s our base. No one can blame us for not trying, for not having ambition because we give everything

The progress since I’ve been here has surprised me a little, but at the same time, it hasn’t been surprising because if you look at the team, we have a fantastic squad on and off the pitch. It’s not just the talent we have: everyone gets along, we want to fight for each other, we want to develop together and that’s something that comes down from the manager and how he is with his staff. The senior players here are welcoming, set the tone in terms of how we treat each other and what we should demand from ourselves. We want to improve, we won’t get comfortable. That’s a big credit to the manager and everyone that works at Melwood: they always remind us there’s no time to feel like it’s all good. That we have to strive to be better than the last game, even if it was an incredible performance. There are always things we can still learn to perfect

2019 08 05b Retrieve

[Van Dijk offers advice to Harry Maguire on becoming world’s most expensive defender] Good luck to him. I can’t say anything about that because there was always going to be a time when it was going to change. That’s the market. He doesn’t have any influence on that but I wish him well. The price comes with pressure but it doesn’t change too much because you always have pressure at big clubs like Man United. But I wish him well

[Van Dijk has even offered Maguire some advice on dealing with the added scrutiny he will now face] It is not easy to completely shut off all the pressure. Personally, I like to put things in perspective. Quite a lot of things are more important than playing football and what we do, we are blessed. We can do what we love to do and also to play for Liverpool – they are such a big club. You need to enjoy it but the pressure will always be there. Just focus on doing what you love to do and play your best game. Get your qualities out of the pitch, enjoy your game and don’t think about the other things

: 2019 08 08 Virgil van Dijk has named in the 11-man final shortlist to win UEFA’s annual individual awards in his respective positions

2019 08 10 Retrieve

[Van Dijk: Adrian will slot into Liverpool team easily after Alisson Becker injury blow] Alisson is very important for us but whatever the outcome [of the injury] we have to deal with it and we are going to deal with it. Adrian is at that age, that stage of his life and career, that he can come in and slot in to the team pretty easy. He has been through so many things in the Premier League. When he came on, I just wished him luck and to do his normal things. It is unlucky that we conceded but that’s part of football sometimes

2019 08 10b Retrieve

[Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk is honoured to be considered a candidate for the Ballon d’Or] Obviously, I’m honoured to be mentioned as a candidate to win the Ballon d’Or, but the only way I can influence it is to just focus on playing well. I don’t have a vote, but I am sure that the guys who do will come up with the right decision when the time is right. If I am picked, then I will be very honoured. But, if I’m not picked, then it won’t be the end of the world. Everyone has their opinion, but I feel good, I feel fit and I can keep improving

[Van Dijk started the new season well, scoring a goal in Liverpool’s 4-1 victory over Norwich City on Friday] There is still plenty to improve. The only thing I want to do is keep working and keep giving everything I can in every game. In training, as well, I want to be an example for all the players that are coming through the ranks at Melwood. But I must keep getting better. Everyone can get better. That’s how I feel and that’s what I want to do

2019 08 13 Retrieve

[Recently signed Adrian will step in for Alisson at the Vodafone Arena and he was backed to impress on his first start for the Reds by new team-mate Virgil van Dijk] Adrian has been in now for his second week. We have been working day in, day out. For him it’s obviously very good that he starts playing straight away. It’s not the situation you hope to be in, that Alisson is injured and you have to come in. But he’s experienced enough to go out there and show his qualities because he has plenty of quality. He played for so many years in the Premier League and we could already see in training how good he can be. He needs our support - we all do it together, we defend together. We need him there, he needs us as well. He will definitely do the job

2019 08 14 Retrieve

[Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk insisted his £75 million price tag was never an issue after the world-record fee for a defender was broken earlier this month] It wasn’t a big issue for me. It’s something you don’t have an influence on. It happens, it’s the market and the only thing you can do is put your head down and start playing, give everything for the team. That’s what I did and it worked so far, I’ll just try to keep doing that, keep progressing and be a better player

[Van Dijk is eager for Jurgen Klopp’s side to win the trophy for Liverpool for the first time since 2005] I think it could work in both favours, they know us, we know them, but the most important thing is it’s one game, one final, anything could happen. We know at the start of the season everyone’s coming back from having a break. We are ready, we want to win that trophy and we’re going to do everything that’s possible to hold the trophy

2019 08 14b Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk expects to face a different Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup to the Eden Hazard inspired side that troubled Liverpool last season] [Hazard] is a quality player and he was important to them but I think they have plenty of quality players. I think they play a little bit different than they did last year. We will analyse them and then we will be prepared. Nothing that happened last season will have any impact on what is going to happen. It is going to be a new game

[The Reds picked up three points in their league opener with Norwich] They have a new situation at the club there but we want to do better than we did last year and we will see

[New signing Adrian will step into the starting XI and Van Dijk believes the former West Ham goalkeeper is ready for the occasion] I think he played many big games in his career so I don’t think he is going to be nervous or anything. It is just that he has to do his job with us and hopefully we can win the trophy in the end

2019 08 14c Retrieve

[After the match finished 2-2 following 120 minutes of action in Istanbul, Adrian made the only penalty save as he denied Tammy Abraham and gifted the Reds another trophy] I’m very glad Adrian saved the last one. He should enjoy himself. I told him before that he could be the hero tonight. I said ‘do it’ and he did. I’m very happy for him and for the club as well

2019 08 15 Retrieve

[Van Dijk himself is a fan of his song] I’m obviously aware of my song the fans have created for me. It’s brilliant. Like everyone else, I first saw it on Twitter. Now I’ve heard it in the last few games. It means a lot to me and to have such a great song already is fantastic. It’s recognition of how things have been going and I am very proud to have a song. I can’t tell you how great it is to hear my name being sung in the stadium. I have a good relationship with the fans and I see their comments on social media from time to time. For a club like Liverpool, you need to give your blood, sweat and tears on the pitch and if you do that then I think you will be adored because you’ve done everything possible to win the game

2019 08 16 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool’s battling shootout win over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup was incredibly important for the Reds] It’s incredibly important. I do think it’s really important - for the progress of the team, for our development. Winning a trophy is important for your mentality. We did it the hard way

I think before I joined, in my decision I set my goals, and these things were part of my goals - winning trophies was part of my decision. You take every opportunity you have to win a trophy. That is always the goal, and winning makes it a little bit easier the next time. We would have liked to have done it easier, we wanted to do it like we did better in the second half, but the winning is the important thing at the end. It is good to have that mentality

2019 08 17 Retrieve

[Southampton vs Liverpool. Virgil van Dijk insistent that it will simply bolster their already formidable mental strength] I do think it’s really important - for the progress of the team, for our development. We did it the hard way but winning a [European champions] trophy is important for your mentality

2019 08 17b Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk speaking ahead of the UEFA Super Cup about the appointment of Stephanie Frappart, the first female referee to officiate a major men’s European match] I think gender is irrelevant. If the quality is there, and obviously it is there, because otherwise she wouldn’t get appointed for this game, then it doesn’t really matter. If you look at her CV as well, she had been doing so many good games and, you know, they made probably the right decision. And what I said before, gender doesn’t matter at all

2019 08 23 Retrieve

[Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk admits he’s unlikely to become a manager when he stops playing] At the beginning of my career I thought I might be a manager but at this point I don’t think I will become a manager. The world can be very cruel…there are a lot of people that have opinions and that can affect you - if you have the choice you’d rather not be in those kind of situations. But I think I will definitely be involved in football. I won’t be a pundit because you have to be saying certain things that you might not even want to, but you have to. We’ll see, I think I have a good eye for spotting talent so maybe I’ll do something like that

Everyone that plays for Liverpool always stays in the Liverpool family. I’m very happy to have already been welcomed into the LFC family, I’m a part of history having won the Champions League and hopefully we keep making history. Other than that I just want to be remembered as a fantastic player that gave everything for the team and enjoy every bit of it.

2019 08 24 Retrieve

[Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has selected two Brazilian stars as his picks for the best player he has played with and the greatest of all time] I’m going to be a little bit biased and say one of my team-mates; I would say Roberto Firmino

[Asked to pick his best boss, Van Dijk ticked both domestic and international boxes] Ronald Koeman and Jurgen Klopp.

[Van Dijk said when asked to pick his GOAT] Ronaldinho. He was one of my idols. Marco van Basten. I never saw him properly play but I know he was pretty good

2019 08 28 Retrieve

[It is the first time Van Dijk has featured on the cover of a FIFA game] I’ve been playing FIFA for as long as I can remember and so it’s an extremely proud moment for me to be representing Liverpool FC on the cover of such an iconic game

2019 08 29 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk has been named the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for 2018-19, seeing off competition from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo] I need to think my team-mates; without them I wouldn’t have achieved what I’ve achieved over the past year. It’s been a long road but it’s been part of my journey. I had to work hard at every step along the way and I’m happy to have done that. I’m happy to receive this trophy - it’s a credit to everyone I’ve worked alongside

2019 09 05 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk says he and Liverpool are looking to start from the bottom this season] The only thing I want to do is focus and get better. There are still plenty of things to improve – with the team and with myself – and that’s the only thing I want to do. The main thing is to try to put in your head that we all start from the bottom. We won the Champions League last year obviously but it doesn’t count right now, we start from the bottom. That’s how it is because that’s the reality. If we all keep that in our minds then we should be fine

[Van Dijk, who has starred for Liverpool since making a £75 million move to Merseyside in January 2018] If you have it in your mind, anything is possible. We have plenty of quality players that can make a difference throughout the 90-plus minutes. We should believe at all times. That’s definitely something we try to put in our heads and keep in our heads. We have to keep doing that

[Van Dijk added on a side that is currently on a run of 13 successive wins in the Premier League] I’m a part of a bit of history already with winning the Champions League and hopefully we can just keep making history. I just want to be remembered as a fantastic player who gave everything for the team and enjoyed every bit of it

2019 09 05b Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk backed Netherlands team-mate Matthijs de Ligt to be unaffected by a shaky Serie A debut for Juventus] I saw Matthijs arrive very normally. Nothing was wrong. Everybody that knows him also knows that he always stays calm in these kinds of situations. Of course, I spoke to him. But we don’t need to tell each other a lot. I think it’s also something you only talk about when you see each other for the first time again. After that, the focus is on the future and the match in front of us as a pairing. So that’s what we did

[De Ligt’s former club-mate Frenkie de Jong also switched to a European heavyweight in the offseason by joining LaLiga champions Barcelona, though the midfielder has been used in a slightly different role to the one he played for Ajax and typically occupies for the Netherlands. Van Dijk said when asked if extra work was required to accommodate the duo in Netherlands’s system] No, not at all. Those guys are amazing, they know that and we do too. I think they will show why they are so important to us once again.

2019 09 09 Retrieve

[The Netherlands have opened Euro 2020 qualifying with three wins and one loss from four games, including a 4-2 win at Germany last week. Seeing his side win both of their games this international window has pleased Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk] It’s great that we took two victories in a row. It was the first time in a long time that we were the favourite on paper, so we had to make it happen. Everybody knew it could be tough, but we did well

2019 09 10 Retrieve

[Van Dijk demands Netherlands stay focused after consecutive Euro 2020 qualifying wins] We have done very well with two wins, but we are not there yet. We also want to win the next two European Championship qualifying matches

[Van Dijk insisted the Dutch knew Estonia would fall apart under constant pressure] We knew that they would collapse a lot and that we had to be patient. We also had to remove their counter. That worked out pretty well, although we could have put a little more pressure in the first half. No team could sustain this resistance. We exchanged better from side to side, which gave us more chances and therefore enabled us to score more. No, I didn’t find it a nasty evening

2019 09 14 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk is happy to be on the same team as Roberto Firmino, with the Liverpool forward considered to be capable of making life difficult for any defender in the world] Roberto Firmino is a very important player for all of us. I know how difficult it is for a defender when the striker drops his position and he is making life difficult for any defender in the world, I think. He is so good and I am very happy he is on my team

[Liverpool remain perfect in 2019-20 and have now collected 14 successive Premier League wins, with Van Dijk delighted with their response to falling behind early on against Newcastle] We knew we were just going to have to break them down. They kept defending and waiting for the opportunities. Obviously, to go 1-0 down here was not good but we reacted the right way

2019 09 18 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk insists Liverpool’s Champions League defeat to Napoli should not be a wake-up call for Jurgen Klopp’s side] It didn’t feel like a wake-up call. It felt like it was going to be a draw, and then the penalty changed everything in the game. It shouldn’t be a wake-up call. We have been performing outstandingly since the start of the season so there is no reason to panic. And in the game as well, we played well, we put them under pressure, we created opportunities on the break. So there were a lot of positive things, the only thing not positive was the result

It happens, it’s football, things like that happen sometimes. You wish in the end there was something different, or the right pass, you know you pick the other pass instead of the right pass. But you know it is like that sometimes - there are always some moments in games that could go better. But like I say, if the penalty wasn’t there then it was going to be a draw. But the reality is that we conceded the penalty and it was unlucky that Adrian got something on it, but it didn’t stay out. [The front three] made a lot of problems for Napoli, and we had a lot of opportunities, we hurt them a lot, a very strong side on their own ground. It can happen though, it’s part of the game

2019 09 19 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk has rubbished reports suggesting that he is in contract talks with Liverpool] There is nothing going on, so that’s it

[Pressed again on whether he would like to enter into negotiations] That’s not on me. I saw some reports in the media that I was agreeing a new deal and stuff. But I’m not even discussing anything at the moment. The only thing I want to do right now is focus on the games and we’ll see in the future what may happen.

[He said after seeing two late goals from Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente down Jurgen Klopp’s side] It didn’t feel like a wake-up call. It felt like it was going to be a draw, and then the penalty changed everything in the game. It shouldn’t be a wake-up call. We have been performing outstandingly since the start of the season so there is no reason to panic. And in the game as well, we played well, we put them under pressure, we created opportunities on the break. So there were a lot of positive things, the only thing not positive was the result

2019 09 20 Retrieve

[‘Inspector Gadget’ Fabinho is bossing Liverpool’s midfield] He’s like Inspector Gadget. He has these legs that go everywhere!

2019 09 23 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk is aware that there are still a lot of points to play for] We’re not looking at the others at the moment. The season is still so long. For us it’s just about trying to keep winning games, trying to get results and improve our game. It’s tough to come here [Stamford Bridge] and get a result and I’m very pleased that we did it.

2019 09 24 Retrieve

[Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk insisted he cannot be compared to Lionel Messi, dismissing any suggestions he was disappointed not to win the Best FIFA Men’s Player award] The people who vote made a decision and you have to accept it. That’s just the case and as players you can’t compare me and Messi because it’s totally different. I’m very proud to be here

Disappointed? You can’t be disappointed. I’m just very happy to be here, to be in the team of the year, after the hard work and the good work we put in last year. Today, I, unfortunately, didn’t win but I’m not disappointed

2019 09 29 Retrieve

[Van Dijk not getting carried away despite Liverpool’s perfect start] It’s the media who love statistics. The reality is we have nothing at the moment. We want to continue to do well and there’s still plenty of room for improvement

[Asked if there was any psychological significance in being the team with the advantage at this stage of the season] No. It’s far too early. We’re almost in October and the busy period will come. There are still so many games left and the only thing we focus on is the game ahead of us. We don’t want to look at the others because there’s no point doing that. Everyone realises that as well because last season we saw how it turned quickly. We just want to focus on the game ahead of us

[Liverpool were far from their best against Sheffield United, struggling for rhythm and wasting a pair of first-half chances before Gini Wijnaldum’s volley squirmed through goalkeeper Dean Henderson, 20 minutes from time] They made it very hard for us and I’m very happy we got the three points. We have to win every game, that’s how it is. Everyone knew how tough it would be. It’s a great place to come, passionate fans, a great atmosphere. It was a tough game. Sympathy [for Henderson]? I’m just thinking about my team and the fact we won. It doesn’t matter for me how the goal has gone in, it has gone in and that’s what matters

We’re definitely growing, we’re definitely getting more experience of that situation and hopefully that will help us in the long run. We have to be confident, you have to think you’re going to win every game otherwise you might as well stay at home. We have the quality, we have the players. We’ll take this, recover and then prepare for Salzburg

2019 10 02 Retrieve

[Van Dijk says Liverpool performance shows ‘obvious’ need for improvement] There’s room for improvement. That’s pretty obvious. Obviously they were good, a lot of movement upfront. When there was a second ball, it was theirs every time, especially in the second half, but I’m very happy that we won in the end

You give them credit as well. Salzburg are a good team. They play good football, a lot of pressing, and they kept going, so you give them credit as well. Obviously, we can do better, and it’s a sign that we still have to improve

[The Ballon d’Or candidate says he is not too concerned with that one particular sequence] We’re not talking about goals that we concede [in the dressing room]. We just want to do better. We want to score more goals. We want to, especially, get the win, and we did

2019 10 03 Retrieve

[Van Dijk shrugs off Liverpool criticisms: We can’t always play the perfect game] We did it for the fans! No, we could have done better. It was a game of two halves, maybe? First half we played so well, we were so comfortable at 3-0 but then we conceded a goal and they started believing. We knew before the game that they would never give up anyway, and they kept going, they had a lot of pace and pressing – a bit like how we play. But we should have done better, especially the first 20 minutes of the second half, all of us. That’s why we conceded the goals. But it’s maybe a good thing. We know we still have to improve, but we will

[Van Dijk railed at the suggestion Liverpool had been all over the place at times] I don’t think all over the place is the right choice of words! But when we played football, we tried to break through them and if the last pass got intercepted, then they were very direct. When we have the ball, we are a little open. I think the problem was when we lost the ball, there was a lot of space for them to counter, and with the pace they have and the runners they have, that can be dangerous. Of course everyone wants to panic and stress and maybe look for all the negatives, but we shouldn’t! I’m not even looking at the negatives. We know we can do better, but we are human beings and we can’t always play the perfect game. We have to grind it out. We have the three points and that’s the most important thing. It’s good that we have played against them, we know what we can expect when we go over there. It will be tough there. We can analyse this, and we know we can do better

[Does that, Van Dijk was asked, indicate that teams are raising their game against the European champions?] Well so far we are doing pretty well this season! We shouldn’t forget that after one night where we were a bit disorganised. There’s no reason for panic at all, we just need to relax, have a look at what can be better. There is plenty. We will analyse it, and we have another tough game against Leicester on Saturday. But we have to be confident and keep doing what we do

2019 10 07 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool are not paying any attention to their eight-point lead over Manchester City and insists anything can happen in the title race] So far we have been getting the points. There is always room for improvement in our game. And I think we should just focus on all the games ahead of us and don’t look at any gaps or points or difference between us and the others, including City. There are a lot of busy periods coming up as well with December and January and anything can happen still

[Van Dijk admits he was surprised by Manchester City’s home loss to Wolves] I didn’t expect that, of course. I think everyone expected a difficult game for City, but when City are at home it never really happens that they don’t score at least one goal. It was a great performance from Wolves, and you have to give credit to them. But they (City) will try and bounce back from it. Until then I’ve just got to focus on international football

2019 10 18 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk admits to not watching Liverpool’s Premier League title rivals Manchester City, with the Reds defender claiming that Jurgen Klopp’s side still have nothing to lose at this stage] don’t think we have anything to lose. Man City are the champions, they’re defending their title and we want to get it. In my point of view, we just have to go for it. The pressure gets bigger, but that comes from the media. They love to put more pressure on us and that’s something we have to deal with. I don’t mind because I’m not thinking about what other people say, I just want to win every game that is ahead of me.
br>We definitely need to enjoy it [being top of the Premier League] and be full of confidence, especially with the way we’ve got these points, having not had the best games but still getting the wins. There are so many games left, you can’t really think about it [winning the title] - it’s not realistic. We shouldn’t and we don’t, but it’s the better situation to be in.

I don’t watch Man City’s games but I have family and friends who text me or say something, especially after the Wolves game [when City lost 2-0]. That’s just part of life but we’ve learnt from last year that we don’t have to look to the others until the end of the campaign. So far, we have been doing well but Man City are definitely not going away. The hunger [to win trophies] is even more than it was before [winning the Champions League]. Everyone wants to experience it again. It was such a fantastic evening with the whole build-up and everything that started with the game against Barcelona at home. We all have dreams, we all have targets. With the Champions League last year, we all started the competition hoping to win it and it’s the same with the Premier League. Hopefully it’ll happen this year but if not, we go again next year

[Van Dijk is determined to help restore domestic dominance, with it his opinion that the Reds can get even better] There’s definitely room for improvement - managing the games a bit better, sometimes teams are playing well against us and they want to beat us and they never give up. I’m thinking about Sheffield United when we played away, how tough it was there and big credit to them, they pushed us right to the end, created dangerous moments. There were times in the game when we had big chances but at the moment, we try to grind out those games as well and I think it’s very important

2019 10 18b Retrieve

[Van Dijk admits Man Utd situation is ‘not ideal’ as Liverpool prepare for Old Trafford trip] For them, it is not the ideal situation to lose your first-choice goalkeeper, one of the best in the world, and one of their main midfielders. They will be disappointed but for us, we just want to focus on ourselves. They want to bounce back for all they’ve done this season and it’s not what they’ve wanted so far, but we want to go out there and extend our points tally and keep winning.

They’re not in the best way, they’re not fully confident and they’re not in the situation they want to be in. But the good thing about football is you can bounce back in any game. They might think this is the best occasion to bounce back from it but we know that. We want to go out and fight for every metre on the pitch and try and take the three points back to Liverpool. It’s massive, but it’s more massive for the fans. I think all of the Champions League games are as big as this. The whole atmosphere and leading to the actual game is bigger than some other games but I don’t think it’s the biggest of the season. The big ones are the Champions League and the ones that are hopefully going to win us the Premier League title

I want to be involved in every game. They’re the most fun part of being a football player anyway, to go out there and show your talents to the world, try to win a game with a team you train with day in, day out. It’s not easy, you need to look after yourself and with the life we live, it’s very important to leave a lot of things. For example, we play four games in the next 11 days, you’re travelling and staying in hotels and you need to watch what you eat, drink and make sure you recover well.

I’m not complaining, not at all, but you need to look after yourself because at the end of the day, the people are coming to the stadium to watch you play and it doesn’t matter if you had a cold the day before, they want you to turn up on matchday. That’s why it’s very important to look after yourself and a big part of that is staying fit. Luckily, so far, I’ve been doing that pretty well and hopefully I can keep doing it.

My role is the same with or without the armband. I try to take responsibility because in my position, I have to and I want to as well. I tried to lead the boys from behind and most of the time, I have an overview of the whole pitch so I can try to shout to the front three, whether they hear it or not. Around me as well with the goalie, the full-backs, or the midfielders, I try to shout at them, whether it is nonsense or things that are necessary and need to be said. I think it is a very important thing in football to keep each other awake and alert. Sometimes they have to shout it to me as well and they will

2019 11 09 Retrieve

[Van Dijk says ‘fear is not something Liverpool feel’ ahead of Manchester City showdown] We’re not looking too far ahead because we have only played 11 games and we know City are a fantastic team. But there was no panic last season when we were challenging for the title. I have no fear. You should not have any fear when you go out on the pitch. Fear is not something we feel at Liverpool. And after what we have done, we know that we have the quality to win any game. It will be a good challenge. City are the champions, with quality throughout the whole pitch, a clear plan, a fantastic manager, fantastic players – and are very difficult to beat

[City striker Sergio Aguero is likely to be facing up to Van Dijk] I think Aguero is one of the best strikers in the League. And he’s been doing it for many years. It’s a tough challenge and we will all have to be at our best to keep him quiet. He won’t be worrying about not scoring at Anfield. He has enough experience not to think about those statistics

[Van Dijk rejected out of hand any suggestion his team may look to kill the game] Drawing this game is something we are not going to even think about. We want to win every game we play, and they will want to win as well so we will see. The situation is that we are six points above them at the moment, but that can change quickly

2019 11 11 Retrieve

[Van Dijk won’t write off Man City despite Liverpool’s ‘special’ win over title rivals] It’s like any other three points of course, but it was a bit special because you are playing against the champions, your direct rival. You can imagine everyone is happy we got three points again, especially before an international break. It is not a nice feeling if you go into the international break having dropped points – especially at home – so we were very good and we had to be if we were going to get the three points.

We all know and we all feel there are so many games left that so many things can happen between now and May. We are very happy with the position we are in, but we cannot take it for granted. We just have to keep going and take it game-by-game. The busy period is still to come – December is unbelievably busy. Then we have January and February and you never know what can happen. We want everyone to be fit and at their best, but you can’t be at your best every other day. Hopefully, we will do it, but we can’t think about it

[He insists nobody at Anfield is buying into the claims that Liverpool are easing towards a first title in 30 years] They [City] are the champions first of all so they will definitely be up there again. The other teams have been doing well. The only thing we focus on is the game ahead of us. It’s pretty boring I keep saying it, but it is actually a fact. Let’s just go for it. We are very happy with the situation and we shouldn’t take it for granted. Anything can happen

2019 11 11b Retrieve

[Van Dijk explains why last season’s pain will help Liverpool’s Premier League title bid] We took a lot of experience last year. Good things, but also some things we should have done better. Hopefully we can only make sure we react better and do better. You need to have that bit of luck as well throughout the whole season so at the moment we are very happy in the situation. We drew one game and won the others and hopefully we can keep it going. Obviously, we are in a very good situation. That is something we can’t deny. But we all feel and we know the season is too long to proper celebrate that we are nine points ahead [of City] or something and we won’t. The mentality we have is we just have to carry on and keep doing better than we did. That is the mentality we should take into every game ahead of us.

We did everything possible. We shouldn’t have any regrets from last year. Man City were just outstanding. We kept pushing them and they kept pushing us and you have to respect that, and I certainly do. This year is a new chance for more teams, for both of us and the only focus is the game ahead of us. We have so many difficult periods of games with so many competitions, travelling and hopefully no injuries, no illness, so anything can happen

[Van Dijk also refused to rule out Leicester and Chelsea, both of whom have been in impressive form of late] They have been doing very well and, even if you look at Sheffield United, they are a very difficult team to beat. So I know, everyone here as well knows, how difficult this year will be. But we shouldn’t look too much at other teams, we should look at the teams we face and today it was the champions and we did the job. Hopefully we can keep that focus for the next games.

2019 11 12 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk wins Goal 50 best player awards] I am very proud to have been named at No.1 in Goal 50 for 2019. To be recognised among the great players in world football is very special for me

2019 11 12b Retrieve

[The Dutchman is at Liverpool’s Melwood training ground to receive his award for finishing as No.1 in the 12th annual Goal 50 list] Very proud. Just to even be in that bracket, with so many great players, is something I am proud of

[in August he picked up the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award ahead of Messi and Ronaldo] Maybe now I don’t really understand how big it is. It just comes at me and I am just absorbing everything. But there will definitely be a time that I realise what is going on

[Scott Brown and Van Dijk became close pals at Parkhead, the firebrand Scot teaching the laid-back Dutchman the importance of a winning mentality, of never settling for second best] I had to get that in my system. Every game that we played, everyone expected us to win. And the way we played, most of the time we had 60 per cent ball possession, and we were just attacking all the time. That was something I’d never experienced in my previous career

[By 2015, it was time to move to the Premier League – though again, the traditional ‘big boys’ were conspicuous by their absence. Instead, it was Southampton, managed by another ex-Groningen man, Ronald Koeman, who met Celtic’s £11 million asking price] It was always a dream of mine to play in the Premier League. It was the right time, and I think it was the right club at the time too. The whole setup at the time was outstanding, and obviously the manager played a massive part in my decision to come to Southampton. I learned so much there, made massive steps there and will always be thankful for my time there

[In the end, it was Liverpool who won the race] I made the decision based on many things. My [gut] feeling is always the most important thing, and the feeling I got from [Liverpool] was very good from the first second I heard they were interested. The other clubs that were interested as well, I was definitely happy and flattered as well, but Liverpool were the strongest in multiple factors, whether it was the coach, the players, the whole system we play, the fans, the culture of the club, the whole feeling that everyone has here, and the way we plan towards the future as well. That was always important for me to be a part of the coming years. I have been here almost two years now and so far, so good. I am just happy and glad that I made the decision to come here

[There have been two Champions League finals, a record-breaking Premier League campaign – albeit one without the glorious finale – and a brilliant start to this one. That league title, elusive since 1990, has never felt closer] Did I expect it? I didn’t expect it to be as it is now, no. But I won’t take it for granted. I just want to keep it going

[Van Dijk is shown a clip of Jamie Webster, the Liverpudlian musician, performing in front of 50,000 Reds in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, on the day of the Champions League final in June. The song he sings is Van Dijk’s] What a song! What a video, actually! A couple of my family members were in that crowd. I saw the video after lunch [ahead of the final]. We usually have a sleep, but I couldn’t. I was so excited, I wanted to just get out there. And I don’t have that too much! I was just ready to go, I wanted to go out there, get the trophy and party with them! I am very proud to get that song, and that video definitely gives me chills. It’s just outstanding, something amazing

[Van Dijk remembers the moment he knew he was a European champion. He remembers Divock Origi’s shot hitting the back of the net, clinching Liverpool’s win over Tottenham at the Wanda Metropolitano] That’s the moment that plays in my mind. I knew it was done, and I was lying flat down on the ground. The actual moment of the final whistle is just, you know, tears in my eyes from so much joy. It’s all the hard work we all put in. There are a lot of players in the team that didn’t have the easy road. Some players have to work for what they are, for example Robbo [Andy Robertson]. Where he came from and where he is right now is amazing to see. It should also give so much power to kids who are struggling at a young age, because you never know what might happen in the future

[A year earlier, of course, Van Dijk, Robertson and Co. had been left heartbroken, beaten in the final by Real Madrid in Kiev] What I felt before the final in Madrid was that I don’t want to walk through that guard of honour and get my silver medal. That feeling is the worst feeling you can have. I thought about it before the Tottenham game that we have to do it, we have to get the trophy no matter what. To actually win it, it’s something you will never forget. Not a lot of players in their career win the Champions League, but we actually did it. I think we will always be remembered in Liverpool history for that

Proud, yeah! That’s the only thing I can say. I’m just very proud that with the qualities we have we can make so many people happy, maybe sometimes angry as well! It’s something I just enjoy. As players, the only thing we can do is give everything on the pitch, and that’s what the fans do for us as well

[What about Jurgen Klopp?] I definitely have a special connection with him. And I will always be grateful for him making sure I was going to come here. He’s just a fantastic, complete manager with a clear plan. He has fantastic player-management skills. He does it just on instinct, and he always says the right things. It just clicks at the moment, the whole philosophy of the club, with the staff, with him, with the players, it’s all one. I think that’s very important at a football club, and hopefully we can achieve more things all together

2019 11 15 Retrieve

[Van Dijk doesn’t believe Liverpool have Premier League title wrapped up] I’m not gonna say that [it feels like Liverpool’s year]. It’s something for the media. For players the main thing is we focus on the game ahead of us. For me personally it’s Northern Ireland, it’s a tough task. What happens with Liverpool in the future we’ll see, we have no influence on it, the season is so long. My focus is on the next game, at the moment that’s [with our] national teams

[Depay endured an unhappy 18-month stay at Old Trafford before moving to Ligue 1 in January 2017, but Van Dijk feels he would be an asset to any team] Memphis Depay’s a fantastic player, a very important player for our team here at the moment, wherever he goes in the near future it will be a good thing for him. But he’s still at Lyon at the moment you have to respect that, until things happen you have to see how they go

2019 11 15b Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk has criticised the booing from England fans directed at his Liverpool team-mate Joe Gomez and has called for everyone to leave him alone] It’s disappointing to see [the Gomez booing]. I want to say as well it’s been dealt with. I think everyone should stop talking about it because it’s just a thing that happened. They all sorted it out. Everyone needs to move on, leave Joe especially alone. But yes, it was disappointing to see

[The Dutch centre-half refused to be drawn into the angle and insisted his only focus was on getting to Euro 2020] I’m not gonna say that [it feels like Liverpool’s year]. It’s something for the media. For players the main thing is we focus on the game ahead of us. For me personally it’s Northern Ireland, it’s a tough task. What happens with Liverpool in the future we’ll see, we have no influence on it, the season is so long. My focus is on the next game, at the moment that’s [with our] national teams

2019 11 16 Retrieve

[Joe Gomez was involved in a bust-up with Raheem Sterling at Three Lions training on Monday and received the negative reaction from supporters after coming on as a substitute during the 7-0 win over Montenegro at Wembley on Thursday night] It’s disappointing to see [the Gomez booing]. I want to say as well it’s been dealt with. I think everyone should stop talking about it because it’s just a thing that happened. They all sorted it out. Everyone needs to move on, leave Joe especially alone. But yes, it was disappointing to see

[With Liverpool creating an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League table ahead of Leicester City and Chelsea following the win over City, Van Dijk was asked about whether the Reds would end their 30-year wait for a league title] I’m not gonna say that [it feels like Liverpool’s year]. It’s something for the media. For players the main thing is we focus on the game ahead of us

For me personally it’s Northern Ireland, it’s a tough task. What happens with Liverpool in the future we’ll see, we have no influence on it, the season is so long. My focus is on the next game, at the moment that’s [with our] national teams

2019 11 17 Retrieve

[Liverpool defender Van Dijk withdraws from Netherlands squad] National team coach Ronald Koeman cannot call on VirgiI van Dijk on Tuesday against Estonia. The captain of the Dutch national team has to miss the game due to personal circumstances and has since left the Oranje training camp

2019 11 17b Retrieve

[Van Dijk thrilled as the Netherlands end major-tournament absence by booking Euro 2020 spot] We’re going to a tournament again. That’s the most important thing. We wanted to win today and we had chances. We knew it would be difficult but in the end we qualified - how doesn’t really matter very much. In the last 15 minutes, Northern Ireland started to play more directly, hoping for free-kicks and corners. It was up to us to stay sharp and we did very well at times. We are going to the European Championship, let’s just enjoy it now. We will prepare ourselves well for that

2019 11 18 Retrieve

[Van Dijk reveals how Klopp keeps him grounded as Liverpool star waits on Ballon d’Or vote] I have a very similar connection with Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool as I had earlier with Ronald Koeman at Southampton. Like Koeman, Klopp knows exactly how to get the best out of me – by being critical. When the media are hyping me and being very positive, he will downplay the praise and all that – often with a wink. And when I was voted UEFA Player of the Year and had to go to the ceremony, Jurgen told all the lads that I was picking up the trophy on behalf of the entire team. All the boys in the squad know I can take that sort of stuff very well. I know what he means. At the same time, the boss gives me a lot of respect and responsibility

[Van Dijk, who has withdrawn from the latest Netherlands squad for personal reasons] Of course I can sense how much winning the title is spoken about. For our fans, winning the championship has been way too long, so they place the Premier league title above everything else. We need to keep the fever outside. Klopp tells us every week, ‘Focus on the next match,’ and I agree. We are doing all right but it is only November. The hardest months are still waiting

2019 12 01 Retrieve

[Van Dijk says If Messi wins Ballon d’Or there are no losers] There are no losers on that evening. I am very proud to be in that bracket, be in there for the way I performed with the team last year and also with the country. It is just something to be proud of because not a lot of players go there and are up for these kinds of things. There are no losers that evening – we’ll see what happens

[Perfectionist Van Dijk believes they can still improve, saying they could keep more clean sheets, having not managed one in 12 games] The gap doesn’t mean anything. We are in a good situation points-wise but we know we can get maybe that extra 10 per cent. We try to do it every day, but it is not easy. The only thing we can do is try. Hopefully it will work out, but the most important thing is to win games. If you look at the way we play and the quality we have, we could do a little bit better but that is something for us to look at

2019 12 02 Retrieve

[Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has poked fun at Ballon d’Or rival Cristiano Ronaldo for not showing up to the awards ceremony in Paris] It was amazing. Unfortunately there are a couple of players like him that are a bit unnatural, I think. They’re fantastic. Six-time Ballon d’Or [winner], you need to respect greatness as well. I was close but there was just someone a little bit better. I’m very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool, Holland and hopefully we can do that again this year. It’s going to be tough as long as these guys are around still

2019 12 03 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk took to Twitter to shut down Piers Morgan after the English broadcaster claimed that the Liverpool defender isn’t in the same league as Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo] 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

It was an amazing year, but there’s a couple of players like that who are a bit unnatural. So you need to respect greatness as well. I was close, but there was just someone a little bit better. I’m very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool and Holland, and hopefully we can do that again this year. But that will be tough with those guys around here still

2019 12 03b Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk talks about his season] It was an amazing year, but there’s a couple of players like that who are a bit unnatural. So you need to respect greatness as well. I was close, but there was just someone a little bit better. I’m very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool and Holland, and hopefully we can do that again this year. But that will be tough with those guys around here still

2019 12 05 Retrieve

[Virgil Van Dijk not worried over Liverpool’s lack of clean sheets] It doesn’t really matter but no one wants to concede goals even if you win the game. But I am not going to go to bed thinking ‘Oh s**t’ we conceded a goal. It is all about the team winning games. We want to win in the best way possible and obviously that is by not conceding but if we win it with conceding then everyone is still happy

We are in a good situation we can’t deny that but we are not there yet. We never are satisfied, especially when the season is not even halfway. We want to keep going and focus on the games ahead of us. So from now we will recover from this and be happy and fully prepare for Bournemouth at the weekend

The thing is we have to find a way to win every game we play whether it is with different players or different tactics we are always trying to find a way. The players who came into the team don’t play regularly at all. Look at Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri, they did fantastic, we played Adam Lallan), Milly [James Milner], everyone is contributing and we need everyone

That is the key message and it is good. The season is very long, this month is very long – January as well – so the manager makes the decisions at the end of the day but we need everyone to be ready. We have a big squad and everyone is part of what is going on at the moment. Everyone is happy with the situation we are in. And everyone is also feeling responsible as well, ready to play or if you are on the bench. Everyone is part of the success we have and that is the message to everyone and so far, so good

2019 12 12 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk says Jordan Henderson is Liverpool’s leader and never underappreciated at Anfield] Jordan is such an important player for this team. The contribution he makes goes unnoticed sometimes. I don’t know if he’s underappreciated outside the club, but inside the club I know how highly we all think of him. He’s our captain and he always leads by example

He created the second goal with a great pass and always works so hard for the team. We all appreciate what he does for Liverpool, both on and off the pitch. He’s a leader

[The Reds raised their game when required against Salzburg] I think so too. It was what we expected - very intense, up and down, we had opportunities and they had moments of danger that we had to deal with. When the game settled, we started to take control and we should have made life easier for ourselves by taking our chances before the goals came in the second half. We showed a lot of maturity with that performance

2019 12 14 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk has told The Athletic of Jordan Henderson, his skipper] Jordan is such an important player for this team. The contribution he makes goes unnoticed sometimes. I don’t know if he’s underappreciated outside the club, but inside the club I know how highly we all think of him. He’s our captain and he always leads by example

2019 12 22 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk has admitted that he was disappointed to finish second to Lionel Messi in the Ballon d’Or voting] I was slightly disappointed. I decided I would still go to the ceremony – and, in the end, it was a super night. I still consider it a great achievement to be up there with the ­biggest football icons in the world

I spoke to Messi during the ­evening. It was not the longest ­conversation because he doesn’t speak a lot of English. But it was still enough to make me realise that the respect between us now also runs the other way

[Van Dijk credited the close-knit feeling at Liverpool for the success he’s had] This Liverpool bunch is ­phenomenally close together. In my opinion, Liverpool are one big ­family – and that is why this club suits me so much. James Milner says the same thing – and he has played at big clubs like Man City, Newcastle United and Aston Villa. That’s why this club is great for me. The people are all ­humble. The legends of the great days – such as Kenny ­Dalglish and Ian Rush – travel with us during ­European weeks. Dalglish even sends me texts on my phone and we will have a chat at times. When I go to see my family after a match, I go by the boardroom and it is always full of former top players

2019 12 23 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk says Jordan Henderson is a fantastic captain for Liverpool] He’s our captain. That’s what we all respect. He’s having a fantastic season so far. He’s been doing fantastically whether he’s filling in for Fabinho at the moment or he’s playing as a right midfielder where he’s giving assists and stuff. He has been fantastic, in and out of the pitch he is very important for us whether he plays or not. We all respect him on that level. I think from him that is also the most important thing. When other people say negative things it doesn’t really matter. He was outstanding when he played centre half. I was really proud of him. I told him after the game. He has got a lot more respect for what we do in the back as well. It’s not easy and I know sometimes we make it look a bit easy but it’s difficult. They played very direct as well in that game, long balls, tall striker. It was not easy for him but he dealt with it so well

We are the first Liverpool team that have won it so we can be very proud of that and hopefully more to come. To be out there, to start a tournament you want to finish as the winner and that’s what we did. We are very happy about that. Obviously it’s something special. We got what we came here for. We gave everything that we had. We had Flamengo fans next to our hotel and they were partying the whole time as well. We had already a feeling. I know how big Flamengo is as a club. We knew Brazil was living for them to win this. So I enjoyed the atmosphere, I enjoyed the passion they had. They made it tough for us.

2019 12 27 Retrieve

[Van Dijk revels in Liverpool’s brilliant Boxing Day win over Leicester] Yeah, it was not a bad Boxing Day!. Yes, it might be one of the best performances so far, because it was from start to finish. I think they never had a shot on target? We dominated the game, we dominated possession, we dominated with chances. It was a complete performance

[Van Dijk, though, was keen not to go overboard in his praise for the 21-year-old] Well first of all Trent Alexander-Arnold needs to help us get clean sheets, and today he did that!. And secondly, to be that important with his contribution to the goals, that’s a big bonus for us. They left the whole right side open for us. James Maddison was playing inside so we had to find [Trent], we had to switch the ball quick, get him in open spaces, and we did that well. And obviously he did well too!

[Asked if he was surprised at Leicester’s narrow setup] No, no, they had a game plan. And I think they did the same at Anfield and it worked pretty well for them. They might have thought they’ll do the same, try to isolate me with [Harvey] Barnes and Joe [Gomez] with [Jamie] Vardy. But it didn’t work out too well for them. Obviously we had to exploit the spaces that they give us, and I think we did that very well

[Any suggestion of fatigue or complacency, though, was swiftly dismissed] Most of the players are used to playing every three days so it is no problem. We travelled back on Sunday morning, and I don’t think any of us were up late after the game anyway. We had treatment on the plane, then we had three full days to prepare for Leicester. Everyone was ready. You don’t need to be extra motivated for this one, we knew how big it was and, yeah, we played well!

Yeah, you guys have to talk about it! You guys can do the talking, we’ll focus on the games ahead of us. We can’t say too much, we will give the same answers every time and try to win the game ahead of us. We’re feeling good and hopefully we can continue. Now is an opportunity to recover and be ready for Wolves. It will be tough again and hopefully we will be at our best. But it’s all about winning games.

2019 12 29 Retrieve

[Van Dijk says he would need to see a replay of his alleged handball which came before he launched the ball upfield for Lallana to flick on to Mane] I need to see it back. I can’t remember it. I heard from you guys about handball. I thought it was complaints about the handball for Adam Lallana. The game is over. What can we do? The goal stood. Wolves are a fantastic side who play good football and you have to give them credit because it was going to be difficult. Today was going to be the same. We want to keep continuing what we are doing and we will see where we are at the end of the road. We feel we can improve but cannot complain about where we are. 2019 was promising and hopefully we can keep it going and enjoy the ride

2019 12 30 Retrieve

[For context, their last 19 games have brought 55 points; the 19 before that brought 46, and the 19 before that brought 51] We are positive about the situation we are in but we cannot be satisfied – we want more and more

2019 12 31 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk admits Liverpool took important lessons from the title pain they endured in 2018-19] We are halfway through now and we hope to finish the season on a high so for that, we have to focus on the game ahead of us. The whole experience from last year, doing well in the league, only losing one time, winning the Champions League, the whole experience has been helping us so far in our journey this season. We came very close, unfortunately, City were just a little bit better but that spurred us on to try even harder this year and so we have been winning games, grinding games out and playing good football at times. We enjoy the hard work too so that is very good. Hopefully, we can just keep going doing that and just be hungry for that as well. We should be learning from what happened last year and I feel that is definitely what has been going on

2020 01 10 Retrieve

[Remember that? Loris Karius’ howlers and Gareth Bale’s magic, Mo Salah’s injury and Sergio Ramos’ grin. Dua Lipa and Salt Bae, Cristiano Ronaldo’s final game for Real Madrid] It was massive. It was an experience for all of us that we didn’t want to experience again. What I felt before the final in Madrid was that I don’t want to walk through that guard of honour and get my silver medal. That feeling is the worst feeling you can have. I thought about it before the [Tottenham] game that we have to do it; we have to get the trophy no matter what

2020 01 11 Retrieve

[Van Dijk claims history-making Liverpool can get even better] We want to analyse the game and be much better, but three points is massive, especially here. We play Spurs who are a good side. They were in the Champions League final and that must still hurt for them and they will want to bounce back. Second half they pressed and made it difficult for us. The league lead gives us all a good feeling. But you see there is still room for improvement. We are in a good situation but there is work we can do to make it easier

2020 01 19 Retrieve

[When asked by Carragher whether the title race was over] No, I think everyone wants us to say something about it but we won’t get carried away. I think that what we experienced last year was something that made our mentality like this, we will go one game at a time, stay fit, try to improve, even after today which was a well-deserved, fantastic win, and be ready for the next game

2020 01 19b Retrieve

[Van Dijk denies any hard feelings with Harry Maguire over record transfer fee] No, good luck to him. There was always going to be a time when that was going to change, because that’s the market. He doesn’t have any influence on that. We players don’t have any effect on the price and it’s the same for him as it was for me. But the price does come with pressure. I thought it wouldn’t change too much for him because at Man United there’s always a lot of pressure anyway - there is at all the big clubs

[Maguire’s move to Old Trafford also raised a few eyebrows] What can you do? I’m not listening! It doesn’t really change anything in my head. I just like to perform the best way I can and sometimes it comes with mistakes, we can all make mistakes, but you try to be as good as you can and get the maximum out of yourself. You just have to do what you love to do and play your best game, get your qualities out on the pitch, help the team. Enjoy all that and don’t think about the other things

[how he deals with the pressure of expectations at Liverpool as they fight for silverware on multiple fronts] It’s not easy to completely shut off all the pressure but personally I like to put things in perspective. I know that a quite lot of things are more important than playing football. We’re all blessed that we can do what we love to do. To play for Liverpool, such a big club, and with all the support we get, is special. You need to enjoy it, even though the pressure will always be there

2020 01 20 Retrieve

[Van Dijk shrugs off Liverpool’s huge Premier League lead as defender demands full focus] How many guys have you been interviewing from us?! I think we all give the same answer. Everyone can have their opinion, have their say on the situation we are in now but we all know as a group, everyone that is involved in Melwood, we are not getting carried away. We can’t deny that we are in a good situation, but these things don’t mean anything at the moment – only at the end of the season. And hopefully it does mean something at the end of the season

[That’s 13 league wins in a row for the league leaders] Everyone is involved in that. We have a fantastic goalkeeper, the full-backs doing their job, our midfielders and the stars obviously up front, so it is a whole collective thing. But obviously as a defender we are very pleased to keep clean sheets, because we all know that if we keep a clean sheet there is a big chance to win the game, so it is a good feeling

Yeah but we all know why we are doing it. We all know why we work so hard for each other. That’s the good thing; we are always trying to find a way. It will never be easy but we know that, so you can adapt already to deal with certain situations. The mentality we have, we know there are going to be setbacks in games, we know there will be difficult moments in games, but if you are ready to face them it makes it a little bit easier

[Wolves should provide a test] They give everyone a big test. Massive respect for them, how they play and how they are doing it at the moment. Good team, fantastic manager. It is always going to be tough. They showed it against everyone already in the league. We have to be ready again for a very tough game

2020 01 21 Retrieve

[Man Utd hit with FA charge after players reacted angrily to Van Dijk foul on De Gea in Liverpool loss] Manchester United FC has been charged with a breach of FA Rule E20(a). It is alleged that the club failed to ensure its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during the 26th minute of the Premier League fixture against Liverpool FC on Sunday (19/1/20). Manchester United FC has until Thursday (23/1/20) to provide a response

2020 01 25 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk insists Liverpool did not feel unbeatable despite their incredible run in the Premier League] You never feel unbeatable – it is not a feeling that we have. Anything can happen. There were moments against Wolves when things could have been different. They could have scored a second. We always feel we have to keep working hard. We just try to keep improving. Things are going good at the moment and everyone is in a good situation

Of course I talked with Joe and tried to help. That incident wasn’t his fault. I spoke to him about it at the time and he came through that. I’ve been so impressed by Joe. We all saw last season, before he got injured, how good he is and how good he can be. He’s someone I get on very well with - on and off the pitch. That helps, of course

2020 01 30 Retrieve

[Van Dijk says he doesn’t ‘need to study’ ex-Liverpool striker Ings ahead of Southampton clash] He has been a key man for them [Southampton] and helped turn it around. I’m very happy for him and very happy for the club. I hope they kick on, but Saturday we try to get a result. At this stage, you don’t need to study strikers any more. Normally you know their strengths and weaknesses. You try to prepare as good as possible but most of the time, it’s to make sure you’re 100 per cent ready. The strikers we are facing at the moment we have played against many times

[Reflecting on his decision to swap Southampton for Anfield two years ago] The decision I made has not been too bad! I’m 28 now and I want to fulfil every dream I ever had. Life can be short. Your career can be short as well. I want to enjoy every minute of it. I’m enjoying playing with this team and this manager. We can’t look too far ahead. But right now, I’m enjoying it. I don’t look at the table. You [only] need to look at the table at the end of the season

2020 02 18 Retrieve

[Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk also shared his thoughts on the way Atletico Madrid had set up] We knew it would be a proper battle, especially here in their home ground with the fans behind them and it didn’t help we conceded a goal in the corner and with their first chance. It wasn’t even a chance, it was luck, but it still counts. That’s the way they play, and it is a bit of Spanish football as well. You have to adapt to that, but we knew that. We handled it pretty well. It’s not easy but it’s part of their game and we need to adapt as well. The message at half time was to keep playing and play side to side quickly and we knew there would be chances. We had the ball most of the game but couldn’t create massive opportunities, but we have another 90 minutes to set it straight and we should be full of confidence

2020 02 19 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk put Liverpool’s 1-0 Champions League loss to Atletico Madrid down to bad luck] We conceded the goal from the corner, first chance for them, not even a chance. Bit of luck. The message at half-time was to keep playing. We had the ball most of the game but unfortunately could not create massive opportunities. We still have another 90 minutes to set it right. It is the way they play. It is a bit of the Spanish football as well and you have to adapt but we knew it and I feel we handled it pretty well

2020 02 25 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk has described Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah as a fantastic player] I think he has shown over the seasons he has been here that he is a fantastic player and the numbers speak for themselves. We are very happy with him and that is the most important thing for him as well. He is a very important member of our squad, scoring-wise but also the defending, it is a big part of our game as well so we are just very happy and let’s keep it going

I think we should take advantage of the break we had. Everyone had their time off, we all enjoyed it and we are all ready for the second part of the season. If you are looking for negatives then so be it but we want to win games, we know it is going to be tough every game and obviously the goal they scored was their only opportunity, not even a real opportunity, but it is a goal they scored, give them a big boost and if it stays 1-0 or 2-0, there is nothing to be said. We will just keep going and stay positive and not get nervous. That is the main thing

2020 02 29 Retrieve

[Van Dijk reacts to Watford defeat that ends Liverpool’s 44-game run] I think first of all credit to Watford - the chances they created they stick to their plan they scored three goals we didn’t create too many opportunities and we can’t take the credit away from Watford. We need to improve, it’s a tough one to take. If you conceded three goals we have to improve as a team and we will. Losing hurts, the records are only for the media we didn’t mention it once, we keep going. We want to win the next game in the FA Cup and then in the league against Bournemouth - I mean, that’s the only way forward

The whole season we haven’t lost a game like this. They did very, very well and we should have done better - we want to strike back straight away. Two throw-ins, we have to look at it, there is no reason for panic. We don’t want to concede, we look at it but we don’t have to panic. The record and the talk of the records is all media, we just try to win every game ahead of us. We will focus on the next game, the cup game, and we try to win there. We have to stay humble and work harder next game

2020 03 04 Retrieve

[Van Dijk: It’s too negative to say Liverpool will ‘just’ win the Premier League] Just end up with the Premier League? Yeah? Just? It’s just a small thing is it? We also won the Super Cup and the World Cup of [club] teams. In life, there are people that are not always satisfied. They are always looking for negative things in life. That’s just the reality. Either you’re going to think about these things and go on with it and go on with that negative spirit, or you just focus on the good things, and I’m definitely focusing on the good things. We are in a very good situation. Close to what we all hope to achieve. Let’s just go for it, enjoy it. Tonight is a big blow but we were playing against a very good side. Let’s focus on ‘just’ the Premier League, because it’s very small, huh?

I think that’s stupid to say [Liverpool weren’t bothered about the cups], in my opinion. Every competition we participate in, we want to win. We showed it tonight with the line-up and the way we kept going, the energy we put in.

We tried to do as much as possible to win the game. My reaction is that I don’t like losing. The way we lost at the weekend was totally deserved. It was a very tough day for all of us. Today we made some changes but everyone who came in did brilliantly.

The first goal was a mistake that shouldn’t happen. But we had a massive four chances in one moment to equalise I think. And then it’s a different game. We wanted to keep winning every game that was ahead of us. But we deserved to lose at the weekend.

We all knew it. We all discussed it. We got over it easily, I think, because we spoke with each other and accepted we have to improve. Tonight was a much better performance but you lose so you’re out of the cup. That’s the reality

He’s been very good for us this season. Very important. And he is our captain. We appreciate everything he does for us. But we have quality players all over the pitch. Everyone who’s coming in, whether on the pitch or off it, has to contribute with being a leader. With being ready to come on, in training or when you’re on the bench to challenge the players who’s playing in your position. Obviously, we can’t deny that he’s been outstanding this year, that he’s been very important. But the reality is everyone else has to step up

2020 03 10 Retrieve

[Van Dijk calls on Liverpool’s ‘grown men’ to stand up against Atletico] The pressure is always there. The thing is when you don’t get good results - we don’t get too many - we have had three in the last five, but the outside world can talk like we are in a relegation battle. It is what it is. We have to deal with that. We have to be grown men about it, take it on the chin and show the world why we deserve to be where we are and why we deserve to still be in the Champions League. But we know it is going to be unbelievably difficult

We couldn’t give any chances away against Barcelona, either. Things can happen and they could be the better team but we all want to show why we want to go through with our qualities and deserve to be in the next round

It will be very difficult, with all due respect to Bournemouth, Atletico will be tough, they are a fantastic side. They are one of the best in how they play. They are aggressive, together and they have fantastic players who can hurt you on the break too, so we have to have a fantastic night, all of us. Hopefully we can go through. We have some time to prepare and we have to be ready for a very difficult challenge. I think so far we have been sticking to our principles and whoever is on the pitch involved will give more than 100 per cent. Everyone is looking forward to this game and we all want to go through to the next round. We know it is a difficult game and we will try everything we have to beat them. We know how difficult it will be

2020 03 13 Retrieve

[Van Dijk credits Oblak for ending Liverpool’s Champions League hopes] I think everything went right for 95 minutes, at least. We were outstanding, I think. We dominated the game and had the intensity that they had to deal with. But they had an outstanding goalkeeper and he kept them alive. He pulled off some great saves. He saved them, plenty of times. Maybe three or four big, big saves that I can remember off the top of my head. We tried everything, that was the main thing.

We played very well. I think no one can question that. You are obviously left with nothing at the end of the game, scored the first, second and in the end they scored at the end. That can happen when we are trying to go all out. We expected exactly the way they played tonight. I think everyone expected that if you look at them, it is their right to approach the game the way they did. I think we did everything we could to win the game. As I say, we were outstanding for 95 minutes. We were intense, we dominated, won the ball, won a lot of second balls and put in a lot of work and heart in the challenges. The only thing is we are out of the Champions League

2020 03 13b Retrieve

[There is no confirmation yet that Monday’s game will be played under such conditions, but Saturday’s Under-18s derby at Kirkby will take place without spectators, and Goal understands both Liverpool and Everton are preparing for the news that the senior version will be affected too] I think the main thing is football should be played with fans. We play also for the fans, the fans pay to come and support us. But it is not their decision, it is not our decision, the decision is going to be made by the government and the Premier League and until that decision is made we just have to wait and see. If the decision is made, accept it.

Everybody has to be ready for another intense game and we will be, everyone wants to play those kind of games, I want to play those kind of games. So let’s go out there and enjoy it and don’t forget why we are 25 points clear at the top. We have to focus on ourselves. We need to get a good result at Goodison Park. That is going to be very tough. They are not in the best moment either so we will try everything to get a good result but we know how difficult it will be

2020 03 16 Retrieve

[Van Dijk would be ‘gutted’ to see Liverpool land title behind closed doors] If we won it in an empty stadium and the fans weren’t there, I’d be gutted for them. Obviously if there are no fans at Anfield then it will be a bit of a blow – no one wants to play games without the fans. Until a decision is made on how we go on from here, then we just have to deal with it. But when it happens we are still bringing the title to our fans, definitely

2020 03 31 Retrieve

[Van Dijk names Messi as toughest opponent] There are some difficult strikers out there but probably Leo Messi

[Van Dijk revealed his favourite career moments, which featured a trio of expected answers] There are a few to mention. Making my debut as a professional footballer, making my debut for the national team, and of course Madrid

2020 04 02 Retrieve

[Van Dijk delivers message to Liverpool fans amid coronavirus crisis] First of all, stay safe. Stay home. Do the right things, wash your hands and do all the things the government is saying, which you have heard probably every second of the day – but do it because it helps everyone. It helps you but it helps everyone around you as well. The second thing is that we miss you guys as well, we miss being out there, we miss working hard every day and trying to get better and show our qualities to all of you. Just stay put, wait and see, that’s the only thing we can all do anyway. The most important thing is to stay safe and look after yourself, your family and the people that are close to you

We try to get into that kind of rhythm. The fitness department tried to set up some sessions that we can all do together through video call and I think that’s a good idea, to stick together again and see each other – see all of each other again. Apart from that you just do your running and try to do at least something every day. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we do a harder session to give your body what it needs because it can go quickly if you don’t do anything for quite a while. You have to be smart and you have to do the right things to keep your body on a certain level that you can kick on when it starts again

2020 04 02b Retrieve

[Van Dijk reveals the only game he’s watched back during lockdown] I don’t watch too much football, to be fair. Especially from this season I didn’t watch any particular game back, if I’m honest. I don’t know why, it’s just how it is. I saw only one game back of me when I played one of my first games in Holland, that was on TV, when I played at right-back. I couldn’t believe what I was doing at that time! I watched that game back because I was 18 or 19 at the time and I didn’t watch that game back since that time. It was on TV and I watched it back. I miss watching football and obviously playing football but it’s a bit of a difficult one I think. I didn’t watch any of the Liverpool games this year, I have seen a couple on social media, some highlights – it’s nice to see and a good feeling to get. But, apart from that, not really

Obviously it has been very surreal, a bit crazy. You have never experienced things like this before, you see these kinds of things in TV shows or films, things that you never really come up against. The reality is it’s just a crazy time right now. The most important thing is everyone’s safety, that’s the main thing and the most important thing right now. Yeah (Van Dijk’s family are currently fit and healthy), as long as we’re together, that’s the most important thing. Staying home, staying together and being healthy – that’s the main thing and everyone is coping.

2020 04 06 Retrieve

[When asked how he would like to be remembered when the time comes to retire] As a Liverpool legend. I want to achieve incredible things here. We have a fantastic team, we don’t lack anything, we have all the tools necessary to on winning: a coach that we identify with, a versatile squad, a style of play that breeds victories, a stadium and supporters that play their part. Yes, I would like to be one of those players that return to Anfield after retiring. I see club legends at games and I feel part of a really big family

At 16, I was a right-back and I wasn’t good enough to play as a centre-back. I never stood out as a player until I got to the U19s and was named captain. Sometimes I played as a full-back, other times in the middle. From there, everything got much better. I played for the U23s and everything accelerated

2020 04 09 Retrieve

[Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk previously expressed his disappointment about potentially celebrating the Premier League without fans] If we won it in an empty stadium and the fans weren’t there, I’d be gutted for them. Obviously if there are no fans at Anfield then it will be a bit of a blow – no one wants to play games without the fans. Until a decision is made on how we go on from here, then we just have to deal with it, but when it happens we are still bringing the title to our fans, definitely

2020 04 11 Retrieve

[Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk talks about his career dreams with Sport] [I want to be remembered] as a Liverpool legend. I want to achieve incredible things here. We have a fantastic team, we don’t lack anything, we have all the tools necessary to go on winning: a coach that we identify with, a versatile squad, a style of play that breeds victories, a stadium and supporters that play their part. Yes, I would like to be one of those players that return to Anfield after retiring. I see club legends at games and I feel part of a really big family

2020 05 09 Retrieve

[Van Dijk billed as best defender in the world as AC Milan legend Baresi salutes Liverpool’s ‘leader’] Football has changed so much in the last 15 to 20 years, not just on the pitch but in how it’s seen, access to information and the role of social media and all that. I think the way in which defenders are seen has also changed over the years. Real football fans know how important defenders are and they appreciate them. If I had to name names, then the one who really stands out is Virgil van Dijk, who’s shown the quality, character and strength that a defender needs to have to be a successful leader of a team like Liverpool

I’ve played with and against so many great players that it’s hard for me to choose. But given everything I’ve learned about football in my life, I’m going to choose two players from every generation who have really made their mark on the history of the game. Pele and Eusebio – who I remember watching on TV when I was young – Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer, then Diego Maradona and Michel Platini, Ronaldo and Marco van Basten, and finally Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. That ought to do it!

2020 05 09 Retrieve

[Van Dijk sounds ominous warning to rivals as Liverpool star claims he can get even better] There is always room for improvement; I know it and I just try to keep looking for it and keep working on it. With the help of all my team-mates and obviously the manager, and also the manager of the national team – Ronald Koeman – that will definitely help me get better even now. So, I just keep doing that

To be absolutely honest, in the first six months that I joined we had more training sessions. It was intense, there were a lot of different things that were going to be asked of me. And I enjoyed it, I enjoyed it a lot – the hard work, the discussions that I had with certain players about the way Liverpool, the way we, play. The manager demands a lot from me and it all helped me become the player I am today. It’s a lot of tactical work, a lot of thinking. Obviously as a defender we try to keep a high line, try to put the opponent under pressure at all times. You leave a lot of space sometimes behind you so you had to deal with that as well. But it’s something I definitely enjoy and I knew before I joined the club this is something I had to work on in the beginning but it would definitely be something that I enjoy. And so far, so good

2020 05 09b Retrieve

[Coronavirus stoppage forces Van Dijk to reflect on future retirement] It’s difficult to not be out there, to show our talents, to work hard, just the small things in the game. Also playing for so many fans, winning, the whole build-up to games, training sessions, just seeing the boys. We spend so much time together and all of a sudden now you’re not together for like two months, almost. It’s different, it’s crazy, and it’s something that you really haven’t felt before, and it makes you appreciate things a little bit more. It’s going to be strange, and obviously I don’t want to think about retirement or anything like that, but it’s going to be strange. It makes you think how difficult it’s going to be for players to make the decision to retire, because what are you going to do after? There’s going to be a period of uncertainty where you have no idea what to do, and that feeling is what we have sometimes at the moment as well, because we have no idea what might happen

Obviously we try to keep in touch daily through our group chat. But obviously it’s strange, it’s a strange situation for all of us, for everyone in the world – in any profession that everyone is doing. We have to adapt, we have to do things differently. But the most important thing is definitely everyone’s health. I can only speak for my own private circle, if that’s alright then obviously that’s the most important thing. On the fitness part, I just try to stay as fit as possible, do all the sessions we’re planning to do with the team. And make sure I’m ready for when the league restarts. Then we’ll see what might happen

2020 05 11 Retrieve

[Van Dijk reveals he was nearly axed by his first academy] I played in the academy of Willem II for 10 years. There was a period at Willem II when I was around 16 that I was on the verge of not going through to the next year of the academy. I was not good enough at all, I was on the bench a lot. In the summer I had a growth spurt and after that everything went really well. I had an injury in my groin because I was growing so much, but after that I made big steps

It’s been a good road so far that I have taken to where I am today, everything happens for a reason. I have come from hard work and a lot of dedication and that is something I am very proud of. It’s something that should inspire a lot of young players that are out there that don’t have the attributes of those who have been playing at the highest level since they were 16. There is another way to winning the Champions League. I am very proud of my journey so far and it has not finished yet.

2020 05 11b Retrieve

[Van Dijk had ‘instant feeling’ about Liverpool and describes Reds transfer as ‘surreal’] It was surreal for me to have to make a decision where to go to at the time. The instant feeling was there with Liverpool and they ticked most of my boxes. When I went to Celtic I didn’t realise how big they were at the time, but I had a feeling before I joined Liverpool how big Liverpool really were. You see all their games, I’d played there two times before I joined them, and over the course of time before I signed, I met so many people, Liverpool fans, that would say, ‘I hope you sign for us’. It was special, and when things got finalised and you start playing, my debut against Everton was something I will never forget. How things went in the end; starting in the winter, reaching the Champions League final, the disappointment of losing it but then winning it the year after, coming very close to winning the Premier League and obviously now we are in a very fortunate position to hopefully get it over the line when things start moving again. We are making big progress as a team and I have definitely made big progress myself

Winning the Champions League was surreal. I slept only one hour after, then we went straight back to Liverpool after that and then we went on the parade. I couldn’t keep my eyes open; I was so tired, but it was an unbelievable night, something I will never forget. It was just incredible, from start to finish, it’s something we all want to experience again, whether it’s in the Premier League or next season in the Champions League. We will try and go again. Hopefully we can experience something similar in the future

2020 05 11c Retrieve

[Before making the move from St Marys to Anfield, Van Dijk was subject to signifcant transfer interest from City] Before I made the decision to choose Liverpool, I looked at all the aspects of the clubs; the way of playing, the team-mates, the future as well. The city, the fans everything has got to be a big part of joining a club. I think Liverpool at that time when I made the decision was the right decision and obviously to reach the Champions League final in my first six months was obviously a big bonus and helped me a lot in my development

2020 06 20 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk believes winning the Premier League could take some Liverpool players to the next level] We have not won the title yet. We have not won anything yet. But the aim is to start next season in the same fashion. We can be a team that can keep progressing. We have players who can progress and make big steps in their development. Winning the league would be a big experience that could take them to the next level. We can achieve that first and foremost this season and then we will see what can happen next season. If we win the title this season, we will try to retain it. That’s what we are aiming for but everyone knows how difficult it is to retain the title, especially in England and we are not there this season yet. We tried to retain our Champions League title and it wasn’t possible. It’s very difficult. We will try to focus on the nine games we have left but we hope to set the pace for the rest of next season with the title behind our name and defend the title as well

I know how long our fans have been waiting for this. But unfortunately it’s something we all have to deal with that they won’t be able to be there if it happens. We’ve seen clubs winning cups already in other countries and everybody is getting on with it. For me, winning the Premier League and lifting that trophy would be a dream come true. We were very close last year and we are very close this year, much closer than we were last year. We have nine games to go and we will try to win all of them. That’s our goal.

The most important thing in life is health and we all had to deal with the suspension of the season and everyone had the feeling there would be a time when we finished the season.

It was strange to stop so abruptly and being in the unknown. Not knowing when we will start again. Sometimes people were putting things in the media saying the league should be cancelled. You read these things because you have plenty of time to read when there is suddenly no football being played.

I wasn’t worried but being left in the dark, not knowing what was going to happen, personally I hate that. You ask questions to certain people who know what is happening behind the scenes and it was pretty clear there was no option at all to cancel the league. So you try to make sure you stay fit, do all the right things and make sure you are even more ready than before when the league resumes

2020 06 26 Retrieve

[Virgil van Dijk has declared that Liverpool took their season to another level after claiming a long-awaited Premier League title] It’s unbelievable, what a season. We’ve been incredible. To be part of this group of players and part of this journey is incredible and I am very proud to be able to call myself a Premier League winner. Of course, I watched the [Man City/Chelsea] game. I don’t watch too many games but the game felt like it was taking ages and never ended. When the free-kick went in from Kevin [De Bruyne] - what an incredible goal by the way - I was getting nervous, and I haven’t been nervous in a while. But after that it was just celebration time and we are all proud of each other. I can’t really describe the feeling to be honest. In the league this year we have taken it to another level. We have been so consistent and played so well

2020 06 29 Retrieve

[Jordan Henderson has captained Liverpool to the title] I don’t know if he is under-appreciated outside the club, but inside the club I know how highly we all think of him

2020 07 16 Retrieve

[Liverpool defender Van Dijk refused to accept Liverpool’s title triumph as an excuse for their defeat at Arsenal] We gave them goals as a present. We dominated and put pressure on them but gave them two goals and obviously then it’s difficult to come back. If you give goals away like we did today, including myself, you get what you deserve. The goals shouldn’t happen, but until then nothing was wrong. We pressed them and scored a fantastic goal. A moment of concentration [cost us] and that was unfortunately something we had to deal with twice. It’s so easy to blame us having won the title. I had a feeling we could win here comfortably, but if you give them goals you see what happens. I made a mistake, I take the blame for it, I take it as a man, and we move on.