Virgil Van Dijk: The symbol of hope to millions?
Football at the end of the day, is all about entertainment. Though for the past 50 years it has gradually but astronomically grown into a source of fame, fortune, joy, friendship and bragging rights to many.
Soccer between nations is actually a form of friendly warfare. That’s why for footballers, especially from poorer nations, it is some form of military service to their nation when the face richer nations on the soccer pitch and victory is celebrated back home ecstatically. That’s hugely how most from my generation of Nigerian players viewed this most times and we loved doing it!
As entertainers, recognition and appreciation is greatly welcomed and appreciated. This is same as in soccer where billions are entertained at times and glued to their televisions for 90 minutes at least!
However, soccer is a game of scoring goals to win, hence strikers and goal scorers are more in the limelight and earn, generally, the most.
It is therefore forgivable to most people, who forget that if your supported team were to score 20 goals in a match of football and the opposition scores just one more,21, you lose the game or the battle as it may be.
Hence defenders and goalkeepers play an equally important role as those who get the honours of scoring, mostly due to the fact that their positioning up the field as offensive players, present them with more opportunities to strike at goal than the others.
To love being a defender, or doing the ‘dirty work in the shadows’ as some call it, you need to be generous, humble, team goals savvy and have a ‘big picture’ mentality to excel.
Virgil Van Dijk of Liverpool’s coronation as the 2019 European player of the year, ahead of arguably, two of the best offensive players, super stars of today’s football, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo ( who have dominated the scene for the past 11 years) says a lot and comes ,in my opinion, as a much needed refreshing positive development to the game of world soccer.
28-year-old Van Dijk is Dutch, central back defender for Liverpool, captain of the Dutch national team, started out late in Groningen, then to Celtics in Scotland, where he tasted some success, before moving on to Southampton in the English premier league. He was in an “open warfare” with Southampton when he wanted to leave to a much ambitious club and at one point was shut out from 1st team matches and I believe training sessions too.
He arrived finally at Liverpool in January 2018. I remember at the time asking myself, having seen him play with the Dutch national team etc what Manchester United, Manchester City or Barcelona were waiting for to sign this world class and complete defender?
Since arriving, Liverpool has never been the same as not only has he totally helped make the defence line a fortress, but has made all the players around him play better. End result? After 18 months at the club of Liverpool, Liverpool are crowned European Champions league winners, European Super Cup title,PFA Player of the Year 2018/19 and now he is crowned UEFA Best defender of the year and European player of the year. What
To defensive positioned players, Virgil Van Dijk’s coronation as European player of the year brings some immensely much needed form of hope that being the best at your defensive position in Europe or the world, could get you equal compensation as offensive players.
This move means to defensive players are now fully optimistic of : Better recognition and appreciation for your efforts, better pay, more motivation, better sense of fulfilment etc
Imagine how this makes aspiring young defensive players to feel.
Virgil Van Dijk, we say, Congratulations, it is extremely well deserved !