Virgil van Dijk honoured by hometown – “I am very proud”

Virgil van Dijk has expressed his delight in having a football pitch named after him in the town where it all began.

The defender was present at the opening of the new facility in Breda, the Netherlands town in which the Reds’ talismanic centre-back grew up.

In partnership with the Cruyff Foundation, the pitch was given Van Dijk’s name and he was able to pay a visit while on international duty with his country.

Liverpool’s No. 4 described it as a “proud” moment to be honoured in such a manner, explaining that the pitch is based in the exact location where he played as a youngster.

“I am very proud of it,” said Van Dijk, as quoted by Dutch publication AD.

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 18, 2023: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St. James' Park. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“It is special, precisely in the place where I played football so much in the past, where I have so many memories. Where I made friends. Where I won but also lost.”

There has been no rest for Van Dijk having appeared 41 times for the Reds during 2022/23, with his playing season extended by Nations League commitments for his national team.

The Dutch captain will face Croatia in the semi-final of the competition on Wednesday night, with preparations allowing him to attend the opening of the pitch.

Van Dijk displayed his gratitude for the gesture in an Instagram post last week and touched on the “good memories” he holds from playing in that area as a child.

The defender’s post read: “Where it all began… BREDA. My neighbourhood!!! The area I grew up as a young kid and had so many good memories. This is a proud moment.

“Together with @cruyfffoundation I was allowed to reopen the cruijff court and put my name on it. Thank you to everyone who turned up! Enjoy the courts as I did.”

The conclusion of the Nations League will allow Van Dijk to enjoy a well-deserved rest after a packed schedule with Liverpool sandwiched the winter World Cup in Qatar.

The centre-back will be keen to get back to Anfield after his break in an attempt to right the wrongs of a disappointing campaign with the Reds.