Virgil van Dijk played up front for Groningen in a match against Den Haag in 2011


Virgil van Dijk looked just like a striker in the way that he fired home from close range in the Netherlands’ 2-2 draw against Germany on Tuesday.

The centre-back played the final minutes of the match as a striker - a photo of Ronald Koeman’s tactics sheet that was passed around the players showed this - and the switch worked a charm.

Trailing 2-0 in their UEFA Nations League encounter, Quincy Promes gave Holland life in the 85th minute.

And with injury time approaching, Van Dijk reacted quickest in the box to volley the ball home to secure the Netherlands’ place in the semi-final of the competition.

Van Dijk has only scored once in his Liverpool career, although he could have netted a hat-trick in the recent draw against Arsenal.

Yet Jurgen Klopp should have no concerns about ever playing Van Dijk as a striker - he’s played there before.

And with success, too. In his full debut for FC Groningen, Van Dijk, 19-years-old at the time, scored twice in a 5-1 victory against Den Haag.


Watch: Van Dijk scored twice v Den Haag

Groningen lost the first leg of their play-off game against Den Haag by the same scoreline and, still trailing by four goals at half time in the return match, manager Pieter Huistra realised drastic action was required.

“We had lost the first leg 5-1,” Huistra told The Times. “It was 1-1 and we had to do something special, move to special tactics.”

So Van Dijk was moved up front and he scored twice, including from a free-kick, as Groningen produced a dramatic comeback.

Watch highlights of the match below. Van Dijk’s goals come at 3:19 and 4:30 in the video.

Van Dijk would go on to play often as a striker for Groningen.

“He was a menace, causing panic, and he scored two goals,” Huistra added. You should tell Liverpool.

“When I asked him, he just said, ‘OK, no problem.’

“One of his strengths is that, whenever you give him a challenge, he will rise to it.”


Former Groningen midfielder Tim Sparv has also spoken about Van Dijk’s experience up front.

“We’d put Virgil on for the last 10, 15, 20 minutes and he would cause havoc among the opponents,” Sparv, who now plays in Denmark for FC Midtjylland, said.

“He was quite effective. He did a great job for us as he was just so powerful and strong, allowing him to hold the ball up.

“He was also good with the ball at his feet so he was a useful weapon when we needed him.”

Liverpool’s front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino can cause enough damage on their own.

But who knows, that footage of Van Dijk playing as a striker just might give Klopp ideas.

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