Liverpool's EPL Title Run-In: Virgil Van Dijk Keen To Spread ‘Calmness’ At Anfield

Virgil van Dijk's coolness under pressure is one of his trademarks but since taking over Liverpool captaincy from Jordan Henderson in the summer he has tried to instil that across the squad. Results so far suggest it is working

Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk has encouraged the squad to remain calm under pressure. Photo: Tim Markland/PA

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk hopes the composure he displays on and off the pitch can help get his team over the line in the title race. (More Football News)

The Netherlands centre-back’s coolness under pressure is one of his trademarks but since taking over the captaincy from Jordan Henderson in the summer he has tried to instil that across the squad.

Results so far suggest it is working as they head into the final eight matches of the season with a two-point lead at the top of the table following their 3-1 win over Sheffield United.

“The calmness I want in life personally – trying not to stress about the small things that shouldn’t have an influence on your state of mind – is something I try to implement in the group,” the 32-year-old, speaking at the launch of this year’s McDonald’s Fun Football programme which provides half a million children the chance to play football for free in 2024, told the PA news agency.

“Try to focus on where we have influence and that is our performances. I know I have a big role.

“I’m quite vocal but it’s more I’d rather have a good atmosphere outside the pitch, I want everyone to feel comfortable and feel happy and express themselves in the best way possible because then you can get the best out of everyone.

“That standard has been set over the last few years with our previous captain, who was outstanding, but obviously I do it my own way.

“The responsibility I have to the club goes around the world and I won’t take that for granted because it’s a special situation for myself to be captain of Liverpool.”

But Van Dijk’s calmness should not be mistaken for being laid back.

Behind the ease with which he often patrols the pitch is a winning mentality honed in childhood means any defeat still feels “horrible”.

As a youngster he would get angry if he lost so much as a tackle and he has channelled that to propel him to become one of the best defenders in the world.

Questions were asked about whether he would regain his best form following ACL surgery in 2020 and those intensified during the team’s struggles last season on their way to a fifth-placed finish but displays in the current campaign have proved the doubters wrong.

As he prepares to return to Old Trafford three weeks after an FA Cup exit to Manchester United, Van Dijk said the drive to win remains as strong as ever even if setbacks like last month remain painful.

“Horrible,” said the 32-year-old of how defeats feel. “It didn’t happen too many times this year but, still, I’m a winner.


“Even when I was the age of these kids if I lost a challenge or a game I could definitely be angry about it – but that is also something good.

“You need to make sure have that mentality and it is needed to get to the top and stay at the top.”

Having lifted his first trophy as Liverpool captain, Van Dijk will have a major role to play in the bid to add the Premier League and Europa League to February’s Carabao Cup win.

“It’s getting exciting. If you thought about a year ago, in a bit of transition, and where we are right now and what we have achieved so far this season everyone would have taken it with both hands,” he added.

“Two months left: there will be moments of nervousness, there will be games where we are struggling but it is about never giving up and enjoying every moment of it.

“Every team in the league would love to be in the position we are and that’s something you have to remind yourself.


“These are the times you want to be a football player: to win that (Premier League) again would be absolutely unbelievable, especially after the season we had last year.

“We have a big one at the weekend, then the chaos starts again with those games coming thick and fast.”

:: Virgil van Dijk was celebrating the launch of this year’s McDonald’s Fun Football programme, available to all children aged 5-11 across the UK. Sign up now for your nearest FREE session at