Sepp van den Berg’s move to Liverpool from PEC Zwolle in the summer of 2019 was not one that caused much of a blip. The summer after Liverpool won the Champions League, fans were hoping for a big move as the club turned its focus on winning their first league title in 30 years. Instead, they got a lanky 17-year old Dutch defender with plenty of athleticism and talent, but not someone expected to be a part of the first team any time in the near future.
The youngster, just recently turned 20 years old, spent most of his first season and a half training with the first team, and managed some minutes in cup games. He has spent the last season and a half out on loan with Preston North End in the Championship. In a recent interview with De Stentor, van den Berg said he has no regrets about making the move to Merseyside, and despite not breaking through as of yet, he still has big dreams.
“You don’t say no to a club like Liverpool,” said van den Berg.
“Everyone has their opinion, but I see it as a fantastic step. And what if I had said no? Who’s to say Liverpool would turn up again two years later for the same money? Or if I get injured or out of shape, then I can already tell you: they will not come. My dream is a starting place at Liverpool and the Netherlands’ senior team. I also hope to become even better than Virgil van Dijk. I know: with that I set the bar high. But I think you should always dream and think big.”
Having a teammate and fellow countryman like Virgil van Dijk to learn from and model yourself after is certainly a great thing. While van den Berg obviously has a very long way to go to even be in consideration for a Premier League team, much less a title contender like Liverpool, the youngster has been a fixture for Preston the last season and a half. It would be way to early to write the defender off.
“I don’t think I didn’t make it,” said van den Berg when asked if he felt his time with Liverpool had been unsucsessful.
“I got to play in the Liverpool first-team, experience a full Anfield. I was also part of the team that won the Club World Cup in Qatar and later won the European Super Cup. So I’ve been through a lot of beautiful things. Only: it can always be better. Play Premier League, win Premier League. That is what I want.”
While van den Berg certainly has lofty goals, he still seems to manage to keep things in perspective. Making it at the top levels is extremely difficult, and it requires a lot of hard work, sacrifice, opportunity, and luck. The giant ginger knows he is doing what he can, and is appreciative of the opportunities, and to have picked up a few life skills along the way.
“If for some reason it doesn’t work, fine. Because I know I don’t have to blame myself. I have even developed quite a few cooking skills. That would never have happened if I had stayed in Zwolle as my mother would have cooked for me every night. No doubt she would have just washed my clothes, but I’m getting better at that too. I just leave it in the laundry basket a little too long.”