Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk may not currently be performing the ridiculously high standards he has set for himself in the two years he has graced Anfield, but the Dutchman’s quality has never been in doubt. Countless opponents have name-checked the Ballon d’Or finalist as the best defender they have encountered with each anecdote adding to the legend that is one of Liverpool’s greatest ever signings.
Former St. Johnstone striker Graham Cummins has provided his own amusing entry to the Van Dijk lore, sharing a story about a time he faced off against the then-Celtic center half prior to his move to Premier League side, Southampton.
“Van Dijk left the day after we played against [Celtic],” Cummins said speaking about the encounter to the Irish Examiner. “That’s my claim to fame, that’s what pushed the Southampton deal over the line, that he marked me,” Cummins laughed.
“We were told in the dressing room, stop him, rather than him stopping you. Get behind the ball when he gets it, because he’ll run the pitch no bother.
“The first ball, I tried to sprint with him and he just boshed me out of it. I was out of breath and blowing out of backside and he just turned to me and said, ‘I wouldn’t even bother, I’m just too good.’”
So the next time the world’s best defender elegantly barges a striker off the ball, know that that opponent probably already saw it coming.