Virgil van Dijk has revealed that he overcame a potentially life-threatening health scare around eight years ago, just as he was emerging as a young player at Groningen in Holland.
The PFA Player of the Year could not walk for a week and a half, and apparently signed a will in case he did not get through the ordeal that he was in.
After his appendix burst, Van Dijk, then 17, developed severe peritonitis, an infection in the stomach area, which he says has made him much more appreciative of his life and career.
In an extensive interview with the Guardian, Van Dijk said: “It was a period that I looked after myself for the first time in my life. I couldn’t cook. I lived with another player and if you’re that young you think it’s easy.
“We just had training. We’re not going to try and cook. We’re going somewhere to eat. After I ate so much rubbish, the appendix was affected. I kept eating bad things. The appendix burst, and it was a very tough time. I learned so much about food and that we should value every situation we are in.
“When something like that happens you think a lot and today I appreciate everything we’ve got. I know that life is much more than football. We have family and it’s all about being happy and healthy.”
Thankfully, Van Dijk made it through the troubled time and has excelled ever since, but it could have been very different.
If the Reds can bring home number six next weekend against Tottenham, the Dutchman will be even more grateful than most. No doubt his influence at the back will be vital in the Wanda Metropolitano.