The best player in the Premier League has banged the drum ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League showdown in Madrid next weekend with Spurs.
Virgil van Dijk has claimed he doesn’t ever get nervous ahead of important fixtures, only excited, and suggests players limit their quality if they allow nerves to creep in.
The high-flying Dutchman secured the PFA player of the year award thanks to his fellow professionals backing him over Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling.
Victory against Spurs in Madrid would cap off an incredible season for Virgil and the Reds – a historic sixth Champions League title is the prize for Liverpool.
You’d imagine even players like our number four get nervous ahead of these types of fixtures, games in which you can cement your place in a club’s folklore, but that’s not the case for big Virg.
“I’m never nervous any more,” he told the Guardian. “With experience, the nervousness is not there. When I made my début for Liverpool against Everton [in January 2018] I was more excited than nervous. I surprised myself that day with my calm.
“It’s more excitement than nerves these days,” he continued. “Even before the Champions League final last year I was not nervous at all. I was very relaxed. I was like: ‘Let’s go, let’s do this.’”
“It’s just something I’ve learned over the years and it’s something I’m very happy about. If you’re nervous you think: ‘I don’t want to make mistakes or give the ball away.’ But you limit your own qualities then.”
It’s great to hear this sort of chat from van Dijk – it shows how much of a leader he must be for the younger lads in the squad. Players like Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold are fortunate to have such a figure in our defence.
Being able to say you weren’t nervous about making your début for Liverpool against Everton also shows a great deal of character on Virgil’s part.
Let’s hope this attitude – almost arrogance – is carried into next weekend as the Reds look to shut out Spurs in Madrid.