Virgin van Dijk has begun, on day no. 1, proving himself to be worth the world-record (for a defender) transfer fee ($100 million) which Liverpool paid to sign him from Southampton last week.
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The 26-year-old Dutchman made his Liverpool debut on Friday — in a Merseyside derby, no less — and helped the Reds to a third-round FA Cup victory over local rivals Everton by scoring the game-winning goal six minutes from full-time.
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After the game, Van Dijk spoke of the immense pride he felt playing for Liverpool, and the joy that comes along with scoring the winning goal in a game like that — quotes from the BBC:
“What a night. It was thoroughly deserved, it felt amazing to be out there. The goal is very special for me and my family. Playing at Anfield for Liverpool is a dream for every player. To score a goal is even more special.”
Jurgen Klopp — Van Dijk’s new manager and perhaps the happiest man in the world at finally landing a star defender — was equally delighted to see the nine-figure man made an immediate impact; even more importantly, though, the fight and spirit on display in “a difficult game” on what was “not the night for brilliant football” — quotes from the BBC:
“It was for sure not the best piece of football for 95 minutes but a proper fight. I’m delighted with the attitude we showed again, it was a difficult game. It was not the night for brilliant football, to play through. You would love to see that but Everton defended well. They played football, a big difference to the last game between us to be honest.
“The equaliser was the worst protection I ever saw in my life. It made no sense at all. We were all in the wrong direction. But when you make mistakes in football you have to react and we did again. It was nice that Virgil Van Dijk could score in his first game, a brilliant header. I am really happy.
“In front of the Kop, makes it even better. In Germany, we say cup games have different laws and it was like that — there was an extra push form both sides.”