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Van Dijk hails ‘incredible’ Liverpool kids
Published on: Tuesday, February 27, 2024
By: AFP
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Van Dijk hails ‘incredible’ Liverpool kids
Liverpool’s James McConnell (left) vies with Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher.
LONDON: Virgil van Dijk paid tribute to Liverpool’s “incredible” young guns as the Dutch defender’s late goal grabbed a 1-0 win against Chelsea in the League Cup final on Sunday.

Van Dijk settled a thrilling clash at Wembley with a header from Kostas Tsimikas’s corner in the final minutes of extra-time.

The Liverpool captain was one of few experienced players left on the pitch for Jurgen Klopp’s injury-hit team by the time he scored.

With Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota among Liverpool’s absentees, Klopp started with 20-year-olds Conor Bradley and Harvey Elliott before introducing Bobby Clark (19), James McConnell (19), Jayden Danns (18) and Jarell Quansah (21) from the bench.

“All the young boys on the pitch, in extra time. It’s incredible, I’m so proud of the boys,” Van Dijk said.

“They all played their part in what we achieved today. Intense game for both sides. They had chances we had chances. Amazing.

“First trophy as Liverpool captain. It’s all for the fans so let’s enjoy it.”

It was Liverpool’s first trophy since Klopp’s shock announcement that he will step down at the end of this season after nine years in charge.

The seventh major trophy of the German’s reign was a nice way to repay him for his transformative spell at Anfield.

But Van Dijk acknowledged Liverpool have more targets in their sights to mark Klopp’s long goodbye.

The Reds sit top of the Premier League, face Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday and take on Sparta Prague in the Europa League last 16.

“You should always savour the good moments, this is definitely one of them,” Van Dijk said.

“Listen, we will never take things for granted and you see today it could have been the other was as well that we lost but we did a job, even with all the problems we have had before the game.

“I won’t speak too soon, but hopefully we can win a few more.”

On the evidence of this spirited display Liverpool’s youngsters and their more seasoned stars like Van Dijk, the future is bright for the club even when Klopp departs.

“I’m so proud, proud to be part of this club and especially proud of the boys,” Van Dijk said.

“The talk about it being Klopp’s last season is not from within the squad, that is from the outside.

“When you’re younger and get an opportunity you have to grab it with both hands. They should use this to kick on, and I’m sure they will.

“They should keep pushing to get close to the first team and be part of the squad. Being part of this as a teenager only benefits you.”

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