Van Dijk untroubled by England boos
Virgil van Dijk has shrugged off the peculiar feature of England supporters booing him throughout the Nations League Finals.
Van Dijk headed into the inaugural UEFA event on the back of a stunning season for Liverpool, capped with Champions League glory after claiming the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Players' Player of the Year award. While that underlined the esteem in which the 27-year-old is held by his fellow professionals, a sizable number of England fans booed his every touch during last Thursday's 3-1 semi-final win over Gareth Southgate's side after extra time in Guimaraes.
Some of the English contingent at Sunday's final in Porto, which hosts Portugal won 1-0 thanks to Goncalo Guedes' 60th-minute strike, continued this treatment but Van Dijk was unconcerned.
"I don't really care if somebody boos me or boos the team, we're trying to win the game," he said. "We know we have a lot of support behind us anyway and at the end of the day it's us players who have to do the job. It doesn't affect me at all."
It proved a frustrating night for the Dutch at Estadio do Dragao, but Van Dijk is excited by what the future holds for a team that has bounced back impressively from missing out on both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, under the guidance of head coach Ronald Koeman.
"We have to be proud of ourselves, we made big progress as a team, in and out of the pitch, so we have to keep going and make sure we qualify for the Euros [in 2020]," he said.
Portugal set up with William Carvalho and Danilo Pereira in a robust midfield to counter the influence of Frenkie de Jong, while providing a solid platform for their own creative talents such as Bernardo Silva, who was named Player of the Tournament.
"It's a totally different team we faced [to England]," Van Dijk added, having rarely tussled with Cristiano Ronaldo despite pre-match anticipation of an absorbing duel. I think they waited for our mistakes, they sat back a little bit and let us have the ball. The pace of the game was not high, especially the first half, but I don't think they had too [many] big chances and were a bit luckier in the end than we were."