Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk spoke about his return from injury after the Reds' 3-0 victory over Norwich City on Saturday, admitting that he found the rehabilitation period 'tough' to endure.
The 30-year-old had been out of action since October 2020, when he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury which forced him to miss the rest of the Premier League season and Euro 2020. But he made his return to competitive action on Saturday, keeping a clean sheet against the Canaries.
And speaking to Sky Sports after the match, a clearly delighted Van Dijk described his return as an 'amazing' feeling, and hoped that it was the first of many appearances back at the heart of the Liverpool defence.
"It feels amazing, if I’m honest,” Van Dijk said.
"It was a tough game for many reasons. In the end, 3-0 sounds comfortable, but I think at times we were making it very difficult for ourselves and came a little bit under pressure. Maybe that's fatigue, maybe it's something where we have to do better, but I can't be negative about tonight.
“I’m certainly happy that I’m back out there again with the boys, helping the team. Hopefully that can continue and we’ll see what it brings.”
Van Dijk also admitted that he would need a few weeks to get back up to full speed after missing almost an entire year of action, and discussed how 'tough' it was to go through rehabilitation for his ACL injury.
“Obviously I need games, the manager knows it, I know it,“ the Liverpool star said.
“It was a good start today, now I have time to recover and make sure that I’m ready for next week and the game against Burnley. I made great steps during pre-season and this is another big step, so hopefully I can keep it going.
“Especially in the beginning [of my rehabilitation], mentally it was tough. You are going from one day being fully fit to the next day you can’t walk, you’re full of medication, full of pain, you can’t sleep, everyone has their opinion and you read those things because you have nothing to do.
“Obviously, as well, we were struggling last season with more injuries in key positions. We couldn’t play our game, really, the way we wanted to play with high pressure, full of energy, and I think for our midfielders playing at centre-back it was not easy at all.
“In the end, the guys did a fantastic job to come third. This season hopefully we can build on that and stay fit all of us, we won’t take that for granted either.”
Goals from Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah fired Liverpool to victory over newly-promoted Norwich, and Jurgen Klopp will be hoping that this is the start of a much more successful title challenge than last year's third-place finish.