Virgil van Dijk (born 8 July 1991) is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for Premier League club Liverpool and the Netherlands national team. Considered one of the best defenders in the world, Van Dijk is known for his strength, leadership and aerial ability. He is the only defender to win UEFA Men's Player of the Year and has finished runner-up for the Ballon d'Or and Best FIFA Men's Player. Let us look at his journey to greatness and interesting facts about Van Dijk’s
He almost died because of his lifestyle and habits
The Liverpool Centre back is among the best defenders in the world and is at the peak of his career, but the star nearly saw the end of his career and life in 2011. He was playing for Groningen FC when he was diagnosed with a deadly bacterial infection. He blamed his poor eating choices for the infection of the appendix. He even wrote a will in the name of his mom. However, he overcame the illness and went on to become a gutsy defender and the captain of the Dutch national team.
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He worked as a dishwasher during his early days
The Netherlands football captain once washed utensils and tried to meet the expenses. He was just 16 when he did the kitchen job at the Oncle Jean restaurant in his native city of Breda. He always wanted to become a professional footballer, he also joined the academy of neighbour William II. But he was always discouraged by the people at the restaurant. Little did they know that 12 years later, the same man will become the most expensive defender in football history. Virgil had the last laugh and climbed up the ladder to greatness.
His wife sacrificed her career for him
Behind every successful man, there is a woman.” One can’t say whether this is true or not, but it certainly was true in Virgil’s case. His wife Rike Nooitgedagt has been with the player through thick and thin. They dated for many years before tying the knot. She was a successful fashion sales manager before giving up her job for Virgil as he signed for the Celtics and they moved to Glasgow. Her sacrifices surely didn’t go in vain as her husband goes on to win matches for his teams.
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The Dutchman Arranged the Premature Birth Of His Daughter
The beautiful couple has a 4-year-old daughter named Nila. However, there is a story behind her birth. The couple was expecting their daughter as Rike was due in September 2014 and around the same time the defender received his maiden senior call-up to the Holland Football squad. Resolute to not miss his much-awaited debut match, he arranged for the premature birth of their daughter. Although the birth was smooth and successful, many fans and the Netherland coach Guus Hiddink criticized that unnecessary decision. Unfortunately, the coach ended up not selecting him for the match and Virgil had to wait till October 2015 for his debut.
He once played as a striker and tallied two goals in a match
The Liverpool player is famous for his knack for scoring goals despite being a defender, adding to it he has proved his skills and ability as a striker too! In a mind-boggling incident, when Dijk’s club Groningen was trailing 5-1 from the first leg ADO Den Haag. In desperate need of goals, the manager sent Virgil the substitute as a striker. He didn’t disappoint and scored 2 goals including one free-kick conversion to help the team level 6-6. Unluckily, they lost in penalties, but the valiant effort from Virgil was etched in the hearts of the fans forever.
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He was a Barcelona fan during his childhood days
Many clubs including FC Barcelona have shown interest in gaining the services of the Dutchman. To add to the great battles between Messi and Dijk, surprisingly he was a Barcelona supporter in his early days. I watched Barcelona a lot when I was younger, and not just for the Dutch players. It is a beautiful club”, he recalled in an interview when he played for the Celtics.
Why does Dijk have Virgil on his shirt
According to Virgil’s uncle, the superstar has not had a sound relationship with his dad. His father left his mother at a young age and reportedly is the reason that he wears “Virgil” on his shirt and removed his dad’s name.
The millionaire likes giving back to the society
The Reds defender has earned so much Fame and Money but he hasn’t forgotten his roots. Coming from a humble background and having faced problems during childhood, he has been regularly involved in Charity work. Along with his wife who is keen to help others, he is the ambassador of an orphanage in Nepal. Adding to that, they are part of the Owen McVeigh Foundation. He likes to keep his charity work low-key but it was visible when he invited 120 children of the Merseyside charity to his hospitality box at Anfield for the game against Crystal Palace back in January 2019.
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He has a dual nationality
Virgil's mother Helen is from Surinam and his father Ray Van Dyke is a Dutch. Thus he has dual nationality. When Virgil was a young kid his father left his mom and him to marry another woman. His mother raised him alone and suffered a lot to make ends meet.
Awards won by Virgil van Dijk
The ex- Southampton player became the first Dutchman, first premier league player and the first defender to win the prestigious UEFA Champions league award and also won the best defender award in the same year. He played a major role in Liverpool’s Champions League victory in 2019, where he was awarded the man of the match in the final. He also won the UEFA Super Cup in 2019 and FIFA Club World Cup this year with Liverpool. With the Celtics team, he won 3 Scottish championship titles and one Scottish league cup. He also helped the Netherlands reach the Top 4 of UEFA Nations League 2019.
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