Home News LeBron James, Tom Brady and more – Virgil van Dijk’s sporting inspirations

LeBron James, Tom Brady and more – Virgil van Dijk’s sporting inspirations

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Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk takes inspiration from world’s best sportsmen and tries to live by NBA great LeBron James’ ‘strive for greatness’ mantra.

Last week the pair were pictured together in an advertising campaign for the Los Angeles Lakers – and Reds’ minority shareholder – star’s signature clothing collection for the club.

It is the second collaboration from the NBA’s all-time leading points scorer and while Van Dijk has yet to meet or even speak to LeBron, they have exchanged messages and the 32-year-old believes he can learn from someone seven years his senior.

Lebron sent him a video message in which he said: “I know you will lead this club on amazing things. Strive for greatness.”

“We haven’t spoken but we have had messages passed between us. I saw the billboard this week and it is amazing,” said the Netherlands captain.

“That phrase that he uses is perfect and it could be used for a lot of things. For me personally I definitely try and follow that because I want to achieve the most I can in life and get the maximum out of myself, the team and the position we are in. We are in a good place to do that this season – again.

“Funnily enough I look at all the top athletes at the highest level because I feel like they all have a big role, either as a big role model or for their team and community and there are so many things you can learn.

“The way they conduct themselves on the pitch or on court, also what they do in order to be great.

“There is LeBron, (Novak) Djokovic, Roger Federer, Tom Brady – I could name so many. I like to listen to these guys and learn with how they dealt with being at the top and dealing with difficult moments but also good moments.

“We always hear about the negative sides but you also have to deal with the positives.”

Van Dijk’s assertion that Liverpool are in a good place is down, in no small part, to the return of the imperious form which made him the world’s best defender a few years ago before an ACL injury.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk celebrates with the trophy and the Alan Hardaker Trophy for Man-of-the-Match after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0 after extra-time. (Photo by Peter Powell/Propaganda)

He scored the goal which won them the Carabao Cup last month and is the cornerstone of a team which sits second in the table behind Arsenal only on goal difference.

Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Manchester United represents the third leg of a potential quadruple, with Atalanta awaiting in the last eight of the Europa League.

“Every season is always a challenge but this season we are in a special situation,” added the Dutchman.

“There are no guarantees but we feel like it is quite special with the way we have overcome things as a group, situations like the news of the manager (leaving at the end of the season).

“I feel very comfortable this season in every aspect of the game. Obviously confidence is a big driver but in general I think I have made big steps in possession. I think there are a lot of things that just clicked again.

“I feel really good and the responsibility I have has helped that but I feel that I have made steps again in possession, in the way I defend and I really enjoy that, I want to continue enjoying it and see what it leads to.”

After lifting his first trophy as Liverpool captain at Wembley, Van Dijk aimed a barb at his critics by saying ‘They thought I was finished’.

“I shouldn’t have said that. That was part of the emotion coming out of me because there were so many emotions going through my whole body that day,” he explained.

“Last season was disappointing. Not disappointing in a way that I was bad, I didn’t feel like that at all, I was just below my standards and the consistency wasn’t there that I have had and set for myself in every game.

“I fully understand the noise that came with it but I am a human being and not immune to any of that.

“Maybe in one way it was good to say because it gets it out of me – but I don’t like noise around me.”