Virgil van Dijk reveals new pre-match ritual taken from Celtic days

New Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk has used his authority to introduce a pre-match huddle before each game – a ritual taken from his time at Celtic.

The 32-year-old defender took over as Liverpool's captain this summer, following the departures of Jordan Henderson and James Milner.

Already a part of the club's leadership group, and someone who had worn the armband on a number of occasions over the years, Van Dijk was an obvious choice to take over as skipper at the start of the season.

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The new-look Reds have enjoyed a good start to 2023/24 under Van Dijk's stewardship, winning six from nine in the Premier League so far, as well as three out of three in the cups.

Also the captain of the Netherlands national team, Van Dijk has brought new ideas and rituals to his role – implementing a pre-match team huddle before kick off of each game.

Revealing the reason for the new routine, Van Dijk said: "It was something that we did when I was a Celtic player. And I always liked it because I thought it set the tone for the game and it also gave the crowd a signal that we were ready to go.

"It can also help the atmosphere with it being so close to the match starting, so if our fans want to join in by building up the noise and adding to the sense of anticipation I certainly won't complain, even if it makes it difficult for me to make myself heard."

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Van Dijk has currently led the team out on 51 occasions, and is only 33rd on the list of most appearances for Liverpool as captain – way behind the likes of Steven Gerrard (471), Ron Yeats (416) and Emlyn Hughes (335).

Addressing the Reds' incredible history of leaders, the Dutchman added: "This club has had some incredible captains over the years, leaders who would bring the best out of themselves and their team time and time again. So to be on the list with people like that is definitely not the kind of thing that I would have expected when I started playing.

"But the most important thing for me is that I am part of a team of leaders, individually, who find their own way to take responsibility no matter who is wearing the armband."

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