Home News Ex-Liverpool goalkeeper explains why Dutch media are “jealous” of Virgil van Dijk

Ex-Liverpool goalkeeper explains why Dutch media are “jealous” of Virgil van Dijk

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Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk is arguably one of the greatest defenders to ever play, but in his home country, not everyone holds him in such high regard.

Van Dijk is also skipper of the Netherlands and has 64 appearances for his nation across nearly nine years.

Having proved himself as the world’s best defender, you would think he’d be held in high esteem back home.

This isn’t necessarily the case, though, with journalists and notable ex-players, including Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit, taking aim at the Dutchman – especially last season when he was underperforming.

The latter once even told Ziggo Sport that Van Dijk “thinks he’s better than the rest.”

Former Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld, who earned six Netherlands caps, has lamented the attitude and questioned why some have been so critical.

He told This Is Anfield: “We have a tendency in Holland like, if you saw the documentary about Beckham for example, I think in England it’s sort of similar.

“It’s like a really strange mentality and it’s also like why we don’t have legends games.

“I think the way they treat legends in England and in Spain is so much different than in Holland. In Holland, I always said the people are negative, jealous, so yeah.”

Westerveld went on to name several former players, including Mark van Bommel and Frank Rijkaard, explaining how “when they came back to Holland after a great career and played for PSV or Ajax, they’re getting criticised, being old.”

Nov. 2000: Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld prepares to kick the ball (Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport)

“Even Henderson now, they still criticise him after one game, like ‘uh, he’s too old’. That’s just the way people think in Holland, or especially the media,” the 49-year-old continued.

“Fortunately Van Dijk doesn’t care so he’s just playing his game. With the national team it’s different so they love him. The people love him, but the media is always criticising everybody.

“If he has one bad game then he is too old, that’s how they think in Holland. Shortsighted I think we call them.”

During Liverpool’s post-League Cup final celebrations against Chelsea, Van Dijk said to the camera: “They thought I was finished.”

Less than six months ago, pundit Johan Derksen said Van Dijk was “on his last legs” – how wrong he was.

DOHA, QATAR - Saturday, December 3, 2022: Netherlands' Virgil van Dijk during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at the Khalifa International Stadium. Netherlands won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It seems Liverpool’s defender isn’t alone in being castigated in parts of the press. It hasn’t just been the media either, who have been critical of Liverpool’s Dutch players.

After signing for the Reds at the end of the summer transfer window, Ryan Gravenberch opted to stay on Merseyside and get acquainted with his new surroundings instead of going on a short training camp with the Netherlands U21s.

This brought anger from senior manager Ronald Koeman, who said: “We are not happy with [him] refusing to play for his country.”

Best sticking to Liverpool, boys.