With Liverpool underperforming this season, people have tried to figure out what has gone wrong. One of the scapegoats considered earlier in the fall was Virgil van Dijk. The 31-year-old missed out on the last World Cup with the Netherlands failed to qualify, and it’s possible that Qatar will be his last chance to play in the tournament. Because of this, there have been some who questioned his commitment to Liverpool’s season, suggesting that van Dijk might be more concerned with staying healthy for the World Cup than helping the Reds win.
Van Dijk already dismissed this idea, but as he switches his focus to his country’s mission, he talked about it again.
“The World Cup is massive but I can also assure that I’ve been playing all the (club) games, so if I was thinking about the World Cup during the last period I wouldn’t play all the games,” he said. “I wanted to play all the games, because I focus on a game at a time. It is not as if I am holding back or thinking I am going to play 50% today. That was never the case.”
Now Liverpool are on their hiatus, and the defender can embrace his excitement for what is to come.
“But now it’s time. I gave my everything (on Saturday against Southampton), and now the focus is on trying to be successful in the tournament with Holland and I’m really excited about that, really excited about playing against the best players in world football, leading out my country over there, representing my country there in the best way possible. For me, it is a boyhood dream,” van Dijk admitted.
“I’m 31 now but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to enjoy this as much and maybe it is an even better time for me to go there because of everything that I have experienced.”
On a much more somber note, van Dijk talked about his sadness for former teammate Sadio Mané who looks set to miss this World Cup due to injury.
“Of course (I have spoken to him),” he said. “I was feeling sad for him, first and foremost. I’m not happy in this case and I’ve been in that situation where I missed the Euros. We as players work so hard to get to this stage and he has been such an important figure for his country.
“I know for a fact that he will put a brave face on it, but it’s tough and I feel sorry for him.”
Holland are in Group A with Senegal, and their opening game is against the African team on Monday.