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‘Late bloomer’ Van Dijk targets trophies he missed out on as a kid as Liverpool remain in quadruple hunt

22:30 BST 17/04/2022
Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2021-22
The Dutch defender has cemented a standing among the global elite during his time at Anfield, but he has taken a scenic route to the very top

Virgil van Dijk is determined to make the most of every shot at silverware he gets with Liverpool, as the Reds chase down a potential quadruple in 2021-22, with the Dutch defender admitting that he did not collect an impressive haul of medals as a child due to being a “late bloomer”.

A meteoric rise to prominence has carried the Netherlands international to the very top of a world game, with a standing among the global elite now enjoyed by a man that finished as runner-up to Lionel Messi in the 2019 Ballon d’Or.

The 30-year-old centre-half has become a Champions League and Premier League title winner on the back of a record-setting £75 million ($98m) transfer to Anfield in 2018, while also claiming Carabao Cup honours this season, and is determined to make up for lost time on the trophy front.

Did Van Dijk win everything in his younger years?

Quizzed on whether he has been in a similar situation before as to the one that Liverpool find themselves in at present, with a clean sweep still on the cards, Van Dijk said: “No, no. Definitely not. I was not a great player either back in the day. I was quite a late bloomer, that’s why I enjoy my career even more.

“Every day I take it as it is. Enjoy it. For me coming back from the injury as well, having seen everything from the sideline last year, to be in all competitions still is something I won’t take for granted.

“I’ve played almost over 50 games this season so that is something I won’t take for granted. I just want to keep it going, stay fit, win games and see what it brings and get ready for the World Cup as well.”

Can Liverpool win the quadruple in 2021-22?

Jurgen Klopp’s side moved a step closer to FA Cup glory in their latest outing, as they edged out Manchester City 3-2 in the semi-finals of that competition, and are also into the last four of the Champions League while sitting one point off the pace in a thrilling Premier League title race.

Pressed on whether an opportunity to become legends on Merseyside, and in the wider football world, is serving as added motivation to Liverpool, Van Dijk said: “It’s something that everyone would dream about, to win every competition you participate in but we will see what it brings.

“City are still in the pole position in the league, that’s how it is. We are facing Villarreal in the Champions League who are going to be very difficult, obviously the final of this so we will see.

“It’s also not something that we take for granted that everyone is fit. Anything can happen, with other teams as well. We just take it day by day and game by game.”

Who is catching the eye for Liverpool?

The Reds are fortunate to have a fully fit squad at their disposal right now, with fierce competition for places being added to by the emergence of recent arrivals such as Ibrahima Konate and Luis Diaz.

Van Dijk has been impressed by both, with centre-half partner Konate coming in for special praise on the back of a run that has seen him head home from corners in each of his last three appearances.

“He’s looking quite impressive for his age as well,” Van Dijk said of the 22-year-old Frenchman.

“He’s very mature but there is still so much to learn for him. Everyone can still improve. He has such a good mentality, he wants to learn, he wants to improve and we are just happy that the players that have come in have adapted so well.

“Luis, unbelievable first half as well [against City] with the impact he had. We will keep it going. We need everyone until the end of the season.”

Liverpool will be back in Premier League action on Tuesday when they play host to old adversaries Manchester United.

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