/Ex-Celtic player Virgil Van Dijk odds-on for historic English football honour

Ex-Celtic player Virgil Van Dijk odds-on for historic English football honour

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is odds-on to be named Player of the Year and Footballer of the Year.

The former Celtic centre-half has had a superb season and now the bookies can’t see past him to be crowned as the Premier League’s top performer.

The PFA Player of the Year award, voted on by players themselves, will be announced in the next few weeks, whilst the Footballer of the Year prize, voted for by sports journalists, comes at the end of the season.

Out of the last seven seasons, only one year has not seen the same player win both, and it is predicted that Van Dijk will follow that trend to capture a full sweep.



Virgil van Dijk made an immediate impact at Celtic

Van Dijk is looking at breaking one trend though, as he would make history as the first defender ever to take both honours.

It’s a far cry from when the big Dutchman came to Celtic from Groningen in 2013.

A respectable £2.6 million fee secured the services of a player that manager Neil Lennon couldn’t believe his luck in acquiring so easily.

 

He would spend two seasons at Parkhead and Holland manager Ronald Koeman reckons the Hoops deserve the credit for making Van Dijk the best defender in the world.

Koeman – who introduced him to English football when he paid Celtic £13 million as then- Southampton boss said: “When I was at Southampton, I bought him for £13 million because we had the money to do that then.

“Of course, he then made Southampton a great amount of money because they sold Virgil to Liverpool for £75 million.

“I call that the deal of the century.

“For me, Virgil became the player he is at Celtic.

“In Scotland he learned about playing under pressure and developed faster than we could have imagined. He continued that at Southampton and went up another level.

 

“Now he is easily the best defender in the world.”



Celtic’s Stefan Johansen celebrates with Virgil Van Dijk

As far as Van Dijk is concerned, he’s never forgotten the role Celtic played in getting him to where he is now.

He said: ”Celtic helped me a lot in making my move to Southampton. It was a great time for me in my development.

“It was three years abroad, adapting to the British style of play and winning trophies for such a big club with amazing fans.”

Even if Van Dijk only wins the Player of the Year prize, it would still be a huge achievement as a defender has only taken it home on four occasions since its inception in 1974 – Norman Hunter, Gary Pallister, Paul McGrath and John Terry, the latter being the the only winning defender this century.