You could not wipe the smile off Virgil van Dijk‘s face as he joined in with his Liverpool teammates at the start of pre-season, and the same goes for the fans.
The Dutchman has been working his way back to full fitness for nearly nine months, with his ACL injury requiring time, patience and perseverance.
And the end is almost in sight, with his pre-season presence a huge step in the right direction as slowly integrates himself back into full team training ahead of 2021/22.
On Tuesday, the No. 4 was able to lace up his boots and join in with the group for the first time since October 2020 and it was a moment to savour, and not just for Van Dijk!
In a social media post, footage of the session was accompanied by the simple, yet all-encompassing, message “This feeling!”.
There can be no underestimating the significance of the moment after a tough journey back from a serious knee injury and Reds have been his, and Gomez’s, biggest cheerleaders along the way.
And it’s safe to say his latest post was met with an outpouring of messages as excitement continues to build over a comeback that will be more than nine months in the making:
Things you love to see ??? https://t.co/RijJ3qRCyS
— Dan (@Dan___WB) July 14, 2021
Here he is. Take a walk around him. https://t.co/qrlK9zu4n1
— Daniel K L (@DL_3089) July 13, 2021
Great to see you back out there! What a feeling that always is
— Dr. Rajpal Brar, DPT (@3cbPerformance) July 13, 2021
— Zaza (@ZazaYNWA) July 14, 2021
Surely we’re winning everything this coming season https://t.co/TTIM2jgnTz
— Nosinda bemrhawula (@_Dubani) July 14, 2021
Love you, mate. X
— Ben Webb (@BenWebbLFC) July 13, 2021
His first start in an official match with a full stadium is going to be ELECTRIC. https://t.co/5cCqyUWqr6
— Owen (@obwild480) July 13, 2021
You complete me ? https://t.co/acCp58ZIQJ
— Caro Rosso (@Naby_Lass) July 13, 2021
Van Dijk’s last competitive game was, of course, back on October 17 and while he may not be able to slot straight back into the XI for the opening day of the season, his presence is invaluable.
But while Liverpool may need to be patient with Van Dijk and Gomez, Joel Matip “is the closest to normal training” after an ankle injury back in January.