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Celtic FC- From where Virgil Van Dijk became the maestro of the art of defence

It was the greens of the Celtic F.C. grounds where Virgil Van Dijk rose to fame. In the short time that Virgil spent at the club, he helped the club achieve back-to-back league titles and a League Cup Trophy.

Vinayak Manoj
Last updated: 27.09.2019
Celtic FC- From where Virgil Van Dijk became the maestro of the art of defence | Sports Social Blog

“The Great Wall of Anfield”, the pride of every scouser, Virgil Van Dijk is what one would call a maestro of the art of defence. Inch perfect tackles, commanding a heavy presence in both ends of the pitch attack and defense alike, exerting an extraordinary ability to dominate aerial battles. The man who is seldom crossed by young, pacey, experienced strikers. The dutchman conducts himself on the pitch in a way that gets even the best of strikers weak in their knees. Exemplified in the UEFA Nations League game against France, the young and vibrant Kylian Mbappe charging towards the goal crossing everyone but Van Dijk. The mountainous centre back shadows Mbappe like a tiger stalks his prey; waiting patiently for the perfect moment to strike, and just as the young Centre Forward winds his foot back for a shot, a firm tackle to get the ball away from goal. Everyone rests easy when they see Van Dijk tracking back with an attacker, even if it is a one-on-one situation. 

 

What a couple of seasons it has been for the colossal centre back. The formidable dutchman is the backbone of the European champions Liverpool. Though the origins of Van Dijk are often overseen and even forgotten. The Breda born centre back first put on his boots for the youth team of Willem II, where he progressed through the ranks to their Under-19 squad. He transferred to F.C. Groningen for 250,000 pounds. His first big break came when he was picked up by the Scottish giants, Celtic F.C. Playing for the Bhoys was where his career kicked into gear. 


 

It was the greens of the Celtic F.C. grounds where this nobody became a somebody. For about 2.6 million pounds, a price tag which is nothing compared to the transfer fees that are paid for players with such calibre, Celtic had discovered their hero. Transfers are not what the Scottish outfit is particularly known for, they have often brought in, wrong players, but when they get it right, more often than not it happens to be an absolute gem like Victor Wanyama, Henrik Larsson and more. 

 

In the short time that Virgil spent at the club, he helped the club achieve back-to-back league titles and a League Cup Trophy. He earned a position in the PFA Scotland Team of the Year. Van Dijk became a big hit amongst the fans, maybe it was the rough tackles and dominating presence on the pitch, perhaps the Scottish fans saw themselves in the foreign centre back. Earning a lot of starts for the Hoops, Van Dijk was soon lauded for his talents on both ends of the pitch. Countless crucial tackles coupled with energetic returns and goals led to Van Dijk becoming a highly adored and essential cog in the Bhoys machine. His first goal for the club came against Ross County, a spectacular brace. Carrying the team to glory, the first upset Van Dijk faced was against Aberdeen F.C. where he picked up a red card in the 13th minute after he brought the Aberdeen number 16 Peter Pawlett down at the edge of the box. 

 

His second season in Glasgow was much too similar to his first where he was seen controlling the defence without having to break a sweat. Van Dijk redeemed himself against Aberdeen after scoring a dramatic last-minute winner from a corner, winning the 10-man team that game in a spectacular fashion. 

 

Scottish football is often undermined and ridiculed compared to their Southern counterpart. But it has produced numerous talents that the world of football is extremely grateful for. Not every player is cut out for the rough experience that Scottish football is known to throw at you. Dangerously dodgy pitches, referees and their infuriating calls, maniacal and fanatical fans tossing abuses relentlessly. 

Scottish football is a force to be reckoned with and Virgil Van Dijk can proudly claim that not only did he tussle with this force but actually dominated it during his tenure at the Celtic Football Club. Many in England and Europe forgot about Van Dijk’s posting up north, but the Dutchman left Celtic with the rare reputation of adoration and earning the respect and gratitude of the fans.

 

 


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