From underappreciated youngster to world’s best defender.

A chronicle of Virgil van Dijk’s journey from PSV reject to 2018/2019 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, in 10 quotes. 

#1 'NOT A LEADER'

"

When I worked with Virgil van Dijk he was tall and strong for his age.

He had some presence on the pitch, but I didn't really see the new captain of the Dutch national team."

– Robby Hendrik, Virgil van Dijk's coach at Willem II academy

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#2 'A BIT NONCHALANT NOW AND THEN'

"

Virgil van Dijk, he was a strong character, great passer but a bit nonchalant now and then.

I think that cost him a transfer to PSV, he made mistakes in a couple of games."

– Rob Maaskant, Virgil van Dijk's manager at Groningen

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#3 'A FREE SPIRIT WHO TAKES RISKS'

"

I remember first clapping eyes on Virgil van Dijk and being impressed in terms of what he had at that stage as a footballer.

Virgil was a free spirit at Groningen and would attempt things which was a positive quality in my eyes.

– John Park, chief scout who brought Virgil van Dijk to Celtic

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#4 'MAKES IT LOOK SO EASY'

"

Many clubs out there would love to have Virgil van Dijk because he makes it look so easy.

We’re enjoying him at the moment; I don’t want to talk him up and talk him out of the club.”

– John Collins, Virgil van Dijk's assistant manager at Celtic

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#5 'I AM A HUGE FAN'

"

I'd love to see Virgil van Dijk in a red shirt. I'm a huge fan.

I thought he was fantastic at Celtic and thought we should've had a go for him back then. It'll cost us a few more quid now but I think he's a piece of the jigsaw that would be very welcome and very big for Liverpool."

– Steven Gerrard, before Virgil van Dijk's transfer from Southampton to Liverpool

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#6 'BETTER THAN ME'

"

Virgil van Dijk is better in the air than me, quicker than me, more composed, and doesn’t score own goals.

Not sure about the transfer fee, but double the price of Victor Lindelof sounds cheap to me!”

– Jamie Carragher

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#7 'I HATE HIM'

"

I’ve said it many times, I hate Virgil van Dijk.

I hate going up against him. He’s too big, too strong, too quick, too good on the ball, loves fighting, and even has a good head of hair.”

– Troy Deeney

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#8 'SUAVE ON AND OFF THE PITCH'

"

The 'Swagger Don'. Virgil van Dijk is suave on and off the pitch.

He makes everything just look easy, doesn't he? When you've got him behind you, you've got that feeling of security. He's been an absolute rock all season."

– Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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#9 'THE FULL PICTURE OF A DEFENDER'

"

Virgil van Dijk embodies the full picture of a defender.

His radiance, the way he captains the group, his presence on the pitch, and also now the prizes—the Champions League was fantastic. He can be an example to anyone who wants to aspire to be the best."

– Ronald Koeman

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#10 'YOU COULD WRITE A BOOK ABOUT HIS ABILITIES'

"

You could write a book about Virgil van Dijk's strengths and abilities.

He's still young, but he's so mature."

– Jurgen Klopp

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