Former Paradise star Van Dijk gives class Celtic reminder

By Dave Flanigan

November 4, 2022

Former Paradise star Virgil van Dijk has detailed his Champions League football education and offered a reminder of the size of Celtic football club.

The former Ballon d’Or runner-up spent a mere two years at Celtic Park before moving to Southampton but his class was clear from day one, and he always looked destined for the top.

Regarded as a late bloomer because he arrived later than most elite players do to a top five league, the Holland captain reminded watching viewers that he was already at a huge club before making the move south.

Photo by Claudio Villa – Inter/Getty Images

Speaking to Gary Neville on The Overlap YouTube channel (from 6:00), van Dijk said: “Being able to go from FC Groningen to Celtic was a big one because I played for one of the biggest clubs in the world that nobody really realises in my opinion. I didn’t realise as much before I joined but when I joined, it was unbelievable.

“Playing Champions League in my first season; Barcelona, AC Milan, played against Ajax the year after in the Europa League. I won two league trophies, I won the cup trophy so all these things and the experience made me ready for the Premier League.

“It was just the right path that I took and it definitely helped me and shaped me who I am today because as you know experience is such a big thing especially for defenders, for centre halves and I feel like it only makes you better.”

Van Dijk the perfect case study for Celtic’s transfer policy

Though you’ll struggle to get many players as naturally gifted as Virgil van Dijk, his transfers to and from Paradise was Celtic’s transfer machine at its optimum.

Largely overlooked in Holland because of his languid style, van Dijk was not signed as a punt, but was seen as an investment, and turned out to be an inspired one, as the club roughly quadrupled its outlay on the Dutchman in just two years.

Though it’s easy to say in hindsight that the Southampton underpaid for his services, his success, alongside that of Victor Wanyama and Fraser Forster has allowed the club to charge more for its key assets in recent seasons, as the television and advertising revenue injected into English football has ballooned astronomically.

Moreover, van Dijk’s continual endorsement of the club only helps the club market itself as an attractive destination to future players of his profile down the line, and that can only ever be a good thing.

In other news: Amid all of the usual AGM drama, there was a brilliant sight today for Celtic supporters