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The Success Story of Virgil Van Dijk

Virgil Van Dijk was almost announced to be the best player in the world this year with his second spot in the Ballon d’Or just after Messi. His rocket career the last couple of years in Liverpool has put him on everybody’s lips. You can’t help but wonder how all of this started. Let’s start off by taking a look back in time, more specifically, at the 8th of July in 1991…

This is when Virgil Van Dijk was born in Breda to a Dutch father and a Surinamese mother. Van Dijk started playing soccer early, wherever and whenever he could. Eventually he started to play for the Willem II Academy while working a part time job as a dishwasher. Van Dijk started off playing as a right back, but since he didn’t do so well he got to try the center back position.

The Center Back position suited the 17-year old much better. But his coaches weren’t impressed enough to let him play in the first team. In 2010 Van Dijk finally decided to leave the club and transfer to Groningen in Eredevise.

It took time for Van Dijk to get comfortable in Groningen. His coaches didn’t let him make his professional debut until the next year when he played his first game as a 19-year old. In Groningen, Van Dijk suffered a major setback, when he was close to dying after kidney poisoning. Luckily, he recovered and a year later, after making some great appearances, he joined Celtic in the Scottish League.

Van Dijk stayed two seasons in Celtic, playing almost every game. He brought home two league titles and one cup title, but wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more. So when Southampton offered 13 million pounds for the young defender the transfer deal was sealed.

At Southampton in 2015 Van Dijk made his debut in the Premier League, but also in International Football for the Dutch National Team. He finished his first season in Southampton with a 6th place in the Premier League.

The next season Van Dijk was named team captain. Unfortunately he suffered an ankle injury in his first game of the season which left him on the bench for quite some time. When the season was over Van Dijk was ready for a new challenge. In the January transfer window in 2018 it was announced that the he would transfer to Liverpool for, at the time, a record fee of 75 million pounds making him the most expensive defender ever.

Van Dijk didn’t wait to make an impression in Liverpool. In his first game he scored a game-winning header against Everton in the FA-cup. He also made the Champions League squad of the season by taking his team to the final of the tournament where they lost against Real Madrid. Liverpool and Van Dijk, would, however, get their revenge the next season when they won the competition.

Virgil Van Dijk has certainly had a rocket career since he joined Liverpool 2 years ago. He has played in 2 Champions League finals and finished 2nd and 4th in the Premier League and is currently on his way to help Liverpool win their first Premier League title ever. In 2019 he was named the best player in Europe and the second best player in the world. Messi, the best player in the world, said: “Van Dijk is so hard to beat because he is a defender who knows how to judge his timing and wait for the right moment to challenge or jockey[...] and he is impressive both in defence and attack because he scores lots of goals.

Virgil Van Dijk has certainly impressed a lot of us in the last couple of years. The questions is if he can stay on top and keep bringing home trophies for his club. Let’s wait and see what the future has to offer this incredible defender.