'Growling like a lion' - Micah Richards praises Liverpool star for special Carabao Cup display

Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards was quick to heap praise on the Carabao Cup final match-winner Virgil van Dijk and stated that the Dutch defender was "growling like a lion" for the Reds at Wembley. 

The Liverpool skipper justifiably stole the headlines for his heroic display against Chelsea on Sunday, netting the winning goal with a commanding header in the 118th minute of the match.

Van Dijk had seen another harshly ruled out in normal time after Wataru Endo was adjudged to have been interfering with play in an offside position, while also putting in a flawless defensive display in the 1-0 victory in the capital.

While he received plenty of help from those around him, including the team's young academy stars, the 32-year-old proved to be the difference-maker, ending the day by lifting his first Liverpool trophy as skipper.

Van Dijk rightfully won the official player of the match award - the third time he has done so in a major final for the Reds - and the brilliance of his performance was not lost on pundit Micah Richards.

"What’s so good about Van Dijk is, remember, last season he was coming off the back of a bad injury and a lot of the people were saying that the best days are behind him," Richards said on The Rest is Football podcast.

"I have had knee injuries, and it takes a long time to recover, and he is back into his flow. He admitted by his own standards dropped a little bit, but not at the level that people were talking about.

"For a centre-half, he is not just your blocks and your reading of the game, it’s how much you can command the people around you, and when he has got youngsters around him, in front of him, and I see one bit in the game when he was growling like a lion, like get back in position, do your job, and I just believe that to have a leader like that behind you is just inspirational.

"He is certainly one of the best centre-backs the Premier League has ever seen."

Van Dijk's display in the League Cup final will certainly go down in the history books, with Liverpool becoming the first team in English football to win the competition ten times.

The Dutch international will be hoping that it's not his final trophy lift of the season, with Liverpool still fighting for the Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League.

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