Virgil van Dijk has grown into one of the best defenders on the planet in a Liverpool jersey. Many would also say that currently, he is the best, and he is often ranked among the greatest defender in the history of the Premier League.
With his arrival, the Reds became a team of champion caliber, the Dutchman was one of the key players in winning the Champions League and the title in England, and the impression is that he dominates his opponents with incredible ease.
However, as he stated for the book "Thou Shall Not Pass: The Anatomy of Football's Center-Half" he points out that every game is difficult for him because he comes out on the line with some of the best strikers in the world.
Once the central defenders had a simpler task, their obligation was to take care of the organization of the last line and to prevent the opponent from getting a chance to score. They would play rough and aggressive, but today it is necessary to have top technical skills, because defenders often have a role in the organization of the game and attack.
With the best teams, they go high, to help create actions, but they still have to perform defensive tasks responsibly. Van Dijk emphasizes that he wants to play fair and that he has no intention of injuring anyone on the field in order to stop him.
"First of all, we have 1,000 cameras aimed at us. Personally, I don't like to hurt people. I want to play and win in a fair way. It's just me. I'm not the type to try to win with various tactics."
Although the impression is that it is quite simple and easy to deal with all difficulties on the field, "arrests" opposing players and often creates goal opportunities for his teammates with long balls, the Dutchman claims that every game carries special responsibility and that things are not as simple as act.
"Some people would say I make the game easy, but trust me, every game is very difficult. We play against a world-class striker, great physiques and I never think: This is easy. On the other hand, maybe I want my opponents to think so."
"Look at Roger Federer. When you see him play, you think he doesn't sweat. It must be mentally very difficult for his opponents, who get the impression that he doesn't even try. " He points out that he is trying to get his opponents under his skin and adds that it is very important to believe in yourself and your abilities.
"Sometimes I think like that. I try to get into the opponent's head, but not by talking to him, or hitting him, but I try to make him think he has to raise the game to a higher level if he wants to give a good game or score a goal."
"Yes, you have to believe in your abilities, otherwise you will be overwhelmed. There are other ways to win matches, you don't have to hit people or to curse. "