Tony Bellew interview: Everton fan compares Liverpool's Van Dijk to Ferdinand and Vidic

  • Kobe Tong

Tony Bellew is blue-blooded in more than one regard.

Not only is the ‘Bomber’ firmly part of British boxing royalty, but he also happens to be one of the most passionate Everton supporters that you’ll ever come across.

Whether it be winning the WBC Cruiserweight title at Goodison Park itself or following the Toffees on the road, you can rest assured that Bellew will wear his love for Everton firmly on his sleeve.

Tony Bellew: Diehard Everton fan

Besides, this is a man who has previously admitted that he would exchange all his achievements in boxing to have lived his dream of playing as Everton’s number nine.

However, it says a lot about Bellew that he isn’t afraid to praise those across the Merseyside derby battle-lines when he thinks it’s warranted – and yes, we are indeed talking about Liverpool FC.

In a world where many fans are hellbent on slamming anything and everything that their rivals clubs do and say, it’s always refreshing to hear the supporters who aren’t afraid to give due praise.

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Praise for Virgil van Dijk

And when GIVEMESPORT sat down with Bellew to talk all things Liverpudlian football, it was completely in keeping with the polite and gentle giant that he didn’t shy away from praising the Reds.

In fact, despite having joked earlier in the day that a strike force of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Romelu Lukaku would batter two Virgil van Dijks, Bellew had a lot of good things to say about Liverpool’s defender in chief.

The 38-year-old even claimed that the imperious Dutchman was the best defender that he’d ever seen, going as far as making comparisons to Paolo Maldini, Rio Ferdinand and Franco Baresi.



‘Best defender that I’ve seen in my lifetime’

And while that might seem hard to believe from an Evertonian at first glance, Bellew was keen to attribute his opinion to the fact that Van Dijk is a ‘Rolls Royce defender’ of the likes we have never seen before.

“What a player,” Bellew exalted. “I think he’s the best defender that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I think he’s that good. He’s the Rolls Royce of defenders.

“I haven’t seen a defender that’s as composed or as good as him since a prime Rio Ferdinand and I think his physical capabilities are more than Rio Ferdinand. That’s the only reason that I rate him as better than Ferdinand.


“Don’t get me wrong, he needs longevity and he needs more trophies to be nailed on, but I just think looking at him and what he does on the ball, I think he’s the best defender that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.

“When you come to just pure defending, I’d say Baresi and Maldini are the greatest defenders of all time, but they could never do the things that he could actually do with a ball.

“You know, the way he sprays the ball 80 yards, no problem at all. He doesn’t just spray the ball 80 yards and the players run on to it. It’s at the players’ feet. It’s just insane how good he is.

“He’s literally the Rolls Royce of defenders. He’s phenomenal and someone that I rate massively, which pains me to say, understand, but he’s phenomenal.”


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Van Dijk vs Vidic debate

And when I prompted Bellew on the never-ending debate around Van Dijk vs Nemanja Vidic on social media, the boxing hero responded: “Vidic is a hard man. He’s a really good defender.

“He’s a bit of an old-school, classic defender, but we’ve seen the likes of him before in your Gary Pallisters and Steve Bruces and Tony Adams’s, the really hard-nosed defenders.

“But Rio had a quality that the others didn’t have. Rio had quality that Vidic didn’t have. Ok, he was decent on the ball, Vidic, he didn’t lose it much, but someone like Rio Ferdinand will play it out of a defence, will walk it out, could play on the ball, could pass it…

“Rio Ferdinand probably could have played in central midfield he was that good. He was exceptional and again, Van Dijk is the exact same. 


“And also, they’re really good leaders as well. You can see when they’re on the pitch that Van Dijk is the go-to man. I think he’s proper captain material and I’m sure Kopites will say that as well.”

Fair play, Tony, fair play.

Van Dijk’s soaring legacy

It goes without saying that many fans are bound to disagree – no doubt many Kopites will be among them – but football is ultimately a game of opinions and would be far, far more boring without friendly debate.

And with Van Dijk returning from one of the most serious injuries you can possibly suffer in the sport and looking like he hasn’t missed a minute, his standing alongside the greatest defenders in history will only mature and solidify.

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Whether or not that will be sufficient for more supporters to place him above Baresi, Vidic and Maldini remains to be seen, but the ‘Bomber’ has happily beaten them to the punch either way.

‘Tony Bellew Is Angry is available to listen to on BBC Sounds.’

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