Ev­ery­one wants him . . . ex­cept the one per­son who mat­ters

The Herald - Herald Sport - - MOTHERWELL V CELTIC - GARY KE­OWN

VIR­GIL VAN DIJK in­sisted last night that he has done enough in a suc­cess­ful de­but sea­son in Scot­tish foot­ball to de­serve a chance to join the Nether­lands squad at the World Cup fi­nals.

The 22­year­old cen­tre­half has been short­listed for the Cheque Cen­tre/PFA Scot­land Player of the Year along­side team­mates Kris Commons and Fraser Forster and the Kil­marnock striker Kris Boyd and has be­come the cen­tre of strong de­bate in his home­land thanks to Nether­lands coach Louis van Gaal’s con­tin­ued re­fusal to se­lect him.

Co Adri­aanse, the for­mer head coach of Ajax and Porto, was the lat­est sig­nif­i­cant fig­ure from the Nether­lands to throw his weight be­hind Van Dijk’s claims for a first full cap when claim­ing he should be tried out with Ter­ence Kon­golo of Feyeno­ord in the cen­tre of de­fence.

Van Gaal has started with the Feyeno­ord duo Ste­fan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi, As­ton Villa’s Ron Vlaar and Joel Velt­man of Ajax in re­cent matches, but there re­mains un­cer­tainty over the best op­tions in the heart of the rear­guard amid grow­ing clam­our for Van Dijk to be in­cluded for next month’s friendly with Ecuador in Am­s­ter­dam.

“I think I should be given a chance, def­i­nitely,” said Van Dijk, who left Gronin­gen for Glas­gow in a £2.6m trans­fer last sum­mer. “That is my opin­ion. Ev­ery­one has their own thoughts and the coach’s ones are the most im­por­tant.

“People in Hol­land are say­ing I should get an op­por­tu­nity, but they are not the most im­por­tant people to be say­ing that. If the coach doesn’t in­vite me, it is not go­ing to hap­pen. I was never nom­i­nated in Hol­land.

“I wouldn’t say I am hop­ing to go to the World Cup, though. I think it is a dream. Ev­ery player dreams of go­ing to the World Cup and I cer­tainly do, but I have had no in­vi­ta­tion as yet, so that means there is noth­ing to be hope­ful about. If I am not go­ing, I will just head off on hol­i­day to rest and get ready for next sea­son.”

Van Dijk’s claims for in­clu­sion in the Dutch squad are based, to some de­gree, on the ex­pe­ri­ence he gained with Celtic in the Cham­pi­ons League this sea­son. Yet he in­sists his sweet­est mem­ory from his first year in Glas­gow was gleaned from a match in which he only ap­peared as a stop­page­time sub­sti­tute af­ter be­ing dropped to the bench – the 3­0 home win over Kazakh side Shakhter Kara­gandy that earned a place in the group stages of Euro­pean foot­ball’s pre­mier com­pe­ti­tion.

“I’d say the most beau­ti­ful thing that hap­pened this sea­son was get­ting to the group stage in the game against Shakhter Kara­gandy,” said Van Dijk. “I only played about 10 sec­onds at the end, but it was an amaz­ing feel­ing and I will never for­get that. It was a mo­ment in which I started to feel like a Celtic player and the mo­ment I saw the fans go crazy. It was just an amaz­ing night.”

Van Dijk’s agent Henk­Maarten Chin stated last month that the de­fender would be mov­ing to Eng­land this sum­mer with “the ab­so­lute top clubs” tak­ing an in­ter­est in him.

Van Dijk, him­self, has hardly chas­tised him for his pro­nounce­ments and that may lead to Celtic sup­port­ers tak­ing the op­tion of read­ing be­tween the lines for the truth of what is about to un­fold.

“I read those com­ments, but I don’t know,” he said. “You never know what hap­pens, but I’m still here and have a con­tract un­til 2017. The Cham­pi­ons League is a big in­cen­tive to be here. It is the com­pe­ti­tion in which you want to be play­ing and I think ev­ery player wants to be in the Cham­pi­ons League. I am deal­ing with spec­u­la­tion very well, ac­tu­ally. If there is noth­ing con­crete, I have noth­ing to think about. There are five games left and I am fully fo­cused on those.

“I am not a stressed per­son. If some­thing is go­ing on, I will have to think about it, but there is noth­ing at the mo­ment. If you do well, there is go­ing to be spec­u­la­tion. That ex­ists every­where and I am al­ready used to it to some de­gree.”

VAN DIJK: Louis van Gaal re­fuses to pick Dutch de­fender for his na­tional side ahead of the World Cup

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.