Van Dijk explains how street football made him a dribbler's worst nightmare
The Reds defender was not beaten by any opponent running at him during the 2018-19 campaign, with the Dutchman calling upon experiences of his youth
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Virgil van Dijk has offered a reason as to why no opponent was able to dribble past him at Liverpool last season.
Remarkably, the Dutch defender ended the 2018-19 campaign with a stunning stat to his name.
He formed part of the tightest defence in the Premier League and helped the Reds to Champions League glory in Madrid.
Nobody ran around him with the ball at their feet in either of those campaigns, with the world’s most expensive defender proving once again why he is worth every penny of a £75 million ($96m) transfer fee.
Van Dijk believes he has an explanation as to why rivals find him so difficult to beat, telling Unisport: “I have had the benefit of a lot of one-v-ones by playing a lot on the streets.
“I played in a lot of five-a-side games when I was younger and I loved to attack in those days as well, so you got a bit of a feeling how attackers might think in certain situations.
“Obviously that comes with experience in my professional career too, but I think if you want to progress as a defender or an attacker then just keep playing in the streets with your friends.”
Van Dijk is well on the way to becoming a Liverpool legend just 18 months into his career at Anfield.
He is a European Cup winner and the reigning PFA Player of the Year, but the 27-year-old insists there is no chance of him getting swept up in the hype which surrounds him.
“The best advice I’ve got is to stay humble, keep working hard and enjoy every bit of the way because before you know it, it is all going to be over and you do not want to have any regrets,” Van Dijk added.
“That is the most important thing I would tell young players now because that is the most important thing that is staying in my mind.”
With his feet firmly on the ground, Van Dijk is seeking to take his game to even greater heights.
Chasing down clean sheets is his top priority each and every time he takes to the field, but the Netherlands international is aware of his potential to offer more at the opposite end of the field.
A man who netted six times in 2018-19 said of his game: “As a defender you always like to contribute with clean sheets, obviously that is the most important thing.
“But if you can contribute with a goal that is always a good thing.
“If you look at me personally, I am pretty tall and I should be dangerous on attacking corners and free-kicks and I am working on it.
“It is not always easy when you are marked by the strongest header of the opponents but I am trying my best and that is the only thing you can do.”