Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk opens up on suffering life-threatening illness

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Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has revealed how close he came to calling time on his football career after suffering a life-threatening illness eight years ago.

The Dutchman is regarded as one of the finest defenders in the world since moving to Anfield from Southampton in a record £75million in January of last year.

He further enhanced his reputation with a fine season this time out, helping Liverpool fight Manchester City for the Premier League title and also reach the Champions League final.

Those performances saw him clinched the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, but it could have been so different for the 27-year-old centre-back.

Virgil van Dijk has quickly become a fans’ favourite at Liverpool

Back in 2011, Van Dijk was struck down by severe peritonitis during his time playing at Groningen back home in Holland.

And in an interview with The Guardian , the Anfield hero has opened up on the illness which is an infection of the inner lining of the stomach.

“It wasn’t simple,” he said. “It was a period that I looked after myself for the first time in my life. I couldn’t cook.

“I lived with another player and if you’re that young you think it’s easy. We just had training. We’re not going to try and cook. We’re going somewhere to eat.

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Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk

“After I ate so much rubbish, the appendix was affected. I kept eating bad things. The appendix burst, and it was a very tough time.

“I learned so much about food and that we should value every situation we are in.

“When something like that happens you think a lot and today I appreciate everything we’ve got. I know that life is much more than football.

“We have family and it’s all about being happy and healthy.”

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