Virgil van Dijk has made a surprising admission about his awful knee injury back in 2020. The Liverpool captain feels he's improved.
The knee injury suffered by Virgil van Dijk back in 2020 was a real hit to Liverpool. It came months after the Reds won the Premier League title and they were looking good once again.
In fact, even after Van Dijk went down, they topped the Premier League. In the end, though, injuries caught up to them and the season fell to pieces, somehow rescued at the death for a Champions League place.
But things could have been far worse. Van Dijk was the world's best defender at the time and the injury risked ending that permanently. He missed the rest of the season and, quite honestly, wasn't the same player in either of the next two campaigns.
Van Dijk, though, maintains that the injury was ultimately good for him. It changed him mentally - and he's stronger as a result.
“I never wanted to experience that injury,” Van Dijk told Volksrant. “A knee injury is a mental blow for a footballer.
“I’m happy to be where I am again, after all the hard work. The injury also did me a lot of good, even immediately after the operation.
“I went abroad with my family for seven weeks. We had the best time of our lives together. I will never forget that it has made me so much stronger mentally.
“I can put things into perspective more easily. It is not that football is just a game, but other things are more important, such as family and health.”
It's not what you usually hear - or expect to hear - as Van Dijk points out. Injuries like that are a mental blow to any footballer.
The fact he feels mentally stronger as a result of that injury, though, is about as good as anyone can hope for. Liverpool, certainly, can count themselves fortunate.
And it does seem that Van Dijk is back to something near his best. The Dutchman has been fantastic this season and the Reds have conceded the joint-fewest goals in the Premier League.
Fingers crossed that can continue.