| 11.6°C Dublin

hero returns 'Mentally it's tough' - Virgil van Dijk on his road to recovery as he makes his comback

Close

Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Liverpool at Carrow Road. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Liverpool at Carrow Road. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Liverpool at Carrow Road. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

It was almost a year in the making and when Virgil van Dijk's moment arrived, he didn't disappoint.

Some 301 days have passed since Van Dijk sustained knee ligament damage in a clash with Everton's Jordan Pickford at Goodison Park, with his absence contributing to an alarming slide in fortunes for Jurgen Klopp's side.

Yet it took Van Dijk just 90 minutes to confirm he was back, as he helped Liverpool keep a clean sheet in a 3-0 win against newly promoted Norwich at Carrow Road.

"To be back out there helping the boys... I just hope to continue that and see what it brings," said Van Dijk, who was clearly emotional after his return to action.

"I need games but the manager knows it, I know it. It's a good start and now we have time to recover for next week."

Van Dijk could not stop smiling as he summed up his mood in a compelling interview with Sky Sports, as he admitted his journey to his comeback day has been long and winding.

"The first day of training with the group, you need to get back into normal habits, like shouting at people. It's just repetitions of normal habits," he continued. "I made great steps in pre-season and this is another big step, so hopefully I can keep that going.

"Mentally it's tough. One day you're fully fit, the next you're full of medication and in pain. Everyone has their opinion on what happened and you read those things because you have nothing to do.

"We had more injuries in key positions so couldn't play our game, the way we want to play, with high pressure. The guys did a fantastic job to come through it. Hopefully we can build on it and stay fit because we can't take that for granted either.

"I wasn't nervous, I was excited, I wanted to be out there. I wanted to get the game going.

"In my case I just need repetition, to keep doing things: coming across, pushing up, get the ball, change of play, keep the speed, all these things, what I normally do and yeah, these are the moments where you can really improve, so that’s what I tried to do."

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Liverpool's solid performance at Norwich fuelled hope that they can get back in the Premier League title race, but Van Dijk admitted it was too early to make any predictions.

"The only thing we can focus on is the next game," he added. "It's exciting to see the Premier League like this, all the players coming back, and I enjoy it.

"Thinking about our own team, if we stay fit, we have a good chance to be up there. To play against world-class strikers again and world-class teams, and when you can't predict where you will be at the end of the season, it's exciting.

"This year is going to be exciting for many reasons, personally but as a team as well. If you look at the teams around us improving, who want to compete for the Premier League title; obviously we want to be up there as well.

"So it’s going to be a Premier League full of high quality which we all should enjoy. We have a fantastic squad: just go for it and take each game as it comes.

"Seeing the fans back is a big boost, but also just playing the games, the Premier League, the best league in the world. You want to be out there, you want to perform, you want to compete, you want to win.

"To be able to do that with fans again as a team, hopefully we stay fit all of us, that’s something to be excited about. We’ll give it a proper go and take it game by game."

Read John Aldridge's verdict on Liverpool's win at Norwich in this weekend's Sunday World.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy