Van Dijk's former coach recites tale of how desperate illness the defender suffered during Groningen days

Liverpool FC v Everton FC - Premier League

Virgil van Dijk has been an absolute colossus since his move to Liverpool at the beginning of the year.

Liverpool have kept 17 clean sheets in the league since the Dutchman arrived on Merseyside, more than any other side during that time.

The Netherlands captain has played a massive role in transforming a dreadfully fragile defence into one of the most solid backlines on the continent in less than 12 months.

The Reds have conceded just five goals in the Premier League so far as they bid to keep pace with the Manchester City juggernaut.

He has more than justified his monumental £75 million price tag that raised more than a few eyebrows at the time.

Now, however, you could almost argue that van Dijk represents somewhat of a bargain.

He looks absolutely made for Liverpool and it surely won’t be long before he is made full club captain at Anfield.

Van Dijk’s former coach reveals incredible story

It could all have been so different for the 27-year-old though, according to his former coach from his Groningen days.

Speaking in an interview with FourFourTwo, Dick Lukkien revealed that the giant centre-back very nearly died after being taken ill after a game.

“Virgil was ill, but we didn’t know the extent,” he said.

FC Groningen v VVV Venlo - Eredivisie

“At first we thought he had the flu.

“He was at home for a few days and in lots of pain. He went to the local hospital but they couldn’t find anything, so sent him back home again.

“The pain got worse and when his mum travelled to see him, she realised how bad the situation was.

“She took him to another hospital, which turned out to be crucial.”

So severe was the illness, van Dijk even resorted to writing a will in case the worst should happen.

Van Dijk in action for Liverpool

Thankfully, van Dijk pulled through and made a return to the game he loves - but Lukkien admitted that he was shocked at the state of the defender at first.

“I was shocked,” he added. “When he returned to the club, he had changed from a big man into a shrivelled person. Luckily he managed to recover quite quickly.”


Van Dijk came back from the brink to be one of the most dominant defenders in the world.

Van Dijk celebrates with defensive partner Joe Gomez

Now he is naturally bossing opposition attackers on a regular basis and pushing his teammates to new levels.

What a man.

Liverpool fans know just how lucky they are to have him.

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