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Van Dijk: The father of success must continue to lead the way

Words instead of criticism: Captain Virgil van Dijk finally silenced the skeptics during Liverpool’s League Cup triumph. Jürgen Klopp used it with satisfaction

The excitement about Liverpool’s youngster, without whom the 1-0 extra-time victory over Chelsea FC in the League Cup final would not have been possible, continued to make waves in the days that followed. One performance that was quite rightly not overlooked was the formidable leadership of goalscorer Virgil van Dijk. Whether coach Jürgen Klopp, ex-professionals and experts such as Jamie Redknapp or the media – praise for the captain was heaped from all sides. But there is no resting on his laurels. The Dutchman must continue to lead the way in the final sprint of the season, starting with the FA Cup clash with his former club Southampton FC this Wednesday.

Already announced as the “leader of the pack” in the Wembley program booklet, van Dijk became the father of victory in a way that nobody could have imagined beforehand. The 32-year-old had to pull out all the stops, but challenges such as the 120 minutes of the final against the Blues plus a total of 15 minutes of stoppage time appealed to the defensive giant. “I don’t feel nervous, just excited. I love the big games. It’s a privilege to be involved.” He continued: “We play for Liverpool, at the highest level. There’s no question of quality, it’s there. It’s more about having the right mindset, always being ready. ”

Van Dijk’s first title as Liverpool captain

In six years with the Reds, van Dijk has been involved in every title win of the Klopp era. Sunday’s was his first as Liverpool captain, which naturally made ‘VVD’ particularly happy. But he was quick to refer to “the boys”: “I’m so proud of them.” Like his team-mates Andy Robertson (Scotland) and Wataru Endo (Japan), the Oranje defender is also captain of his national team. As Liverpool captain, says van Dijk, he represents the club not only in matches and on the training pitch, but “all over the world”. He gladly accepts this great responsibility, “it fills me with pride.”

In the game, Klopp’s captain fills his role and position with loud commands, internally he is regarded as a helpful contact person, especially for the “kids” from the academy in Kirkby, such as Quansah, Bradley, Danns, McConnell or Clark, who passed their joint baptism of fire in the League Cup Final with flying colors.

Van Dijk’s message to “Klopp’s kindergarten” before the final was: “We have a culture that encourages the boys and boosts their confidence. But the boys have to see this as the start of a development and not get the feeling that they have already made it. It’s hard work and we, the experienced players, have to support them, encourage them, but also challenge them. ”

Klopp: “Talk” about van Dijk “was completely off the mark “

Words that must sound like the cheers from Sunday evening at Wembley in Klopp’s ears. The “boss” also used the moment of success with some satisfaction in view of his exemplary leader. “He gives everything from day one. In this respect, the talk that he was at the end of his career when we were in a crisis last season was completely off the mark.” This professional is “always fully committed” and in “top form”.

Former international Jamie Redknapp (formerly in midfield at Liverpool and Tottenham, also Southampton) considers van Dijk to be “one of the greatest in the Premier League”. He is “a fantastic leader”. This was also expressed in the headlines and puns in the British press: “Van among boys”, “Vantasy football” and “On the Virgil of Greatness.”

Will even greater things follow? Liverpool can still play a maximum of 23 games this season, provided that the Europa League final in Dublin on May 22 and the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 25 are actually part of Klopp’s farewell tour.

The next stop is the home game in the fifth round of the FA Cup against Southampton. Van Dijk joined the Reds from the Saints in January 2018. Due to irregularities in the transfer process, Klopp had to wait six months for his desired player. It had to be him, no one else. What followed immediately is already Anfield folklore: the Dutchman introduced himself with a header in a 2-1 win over Everton in the derby, in the FA Cup of all things

Does van Dijk still see his future at Liverpool without Klopp?

After the 2019 Champions League triumph, van Dijk was voted European Footballer of the Year. On the way to 99 Premier League points and the 2020 title win, the “No. 4” did not miss a single minute of play. Right at the start of the following season, “the tower” suffered the biggest setback of his career to date, a cruciate ligament rupture after a foul by Everton keeper Jordan Pickford, which cost him almost a full season. The return to full fitness took a correspondingly long time, but the appointment as “skipper” following the departure of Jordan Henderson before the start of the current season was an obvious one.

Van Dijk has a contract with the Reds until 2025 and Klopp, he said, was a major reason for joining Liverpool FC. After the popular team manager announced his departure this summer, the Dutchman left the question of whether he sees his future at Liverpool after the German’s era unanswered. For now, his priorities are different: “We can play for a total of four titles. It could be a magical farewell tour.” He wants to make a huge contribution to this

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