The Dutchman has become one of the best defenders in the world because of his performances with the Reds last season and has carried on his form this season.

People view Virgil van Dijk as the uncompromising defender that has been central to Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League victory last season and reached the UEFA Nations League final, only to lose to Portugal in the final, yet back in 2012, the Dutchman suffered a terrible disease, amidst things getting so bad that he even wrote a will.

On Monday night, Van Dijk was part of the three shortlisted candidate to win the 2019 FIFA Best player award alongside with the Spanish giant star Lionel Messi and the Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo who failed to either voted for any of the pair or show up at the events in Milan.

The Argentine International Lionel Messi won the FIFA Best Men’s player of the year of 2019 defeating Van Dijk and Ronaldo to grab the award for the sixth time.

Whilst representing the Dutch side Groningen, a 17-year-old Van Dijk started grieving of stomach discomforts during a training session, and he was eventually found by his mother curled up on the floor in pain. He was ultimately taken to the hospital for emergency surgery on a burst appendix, but his predicaments were much more critical.

At 21 years old, Van Dijk also suffered from appendicitis, peritonitis and a kidney infection, a combination of diseases which mostly results in the death of the patient.

Speaking about the situation, the Liverpool star said: “I looked death in the eye – and it was a terrible experience. For the first time in my life, football meant nothing to me. It was not important at all. This was all about trying to stay alive.

“My mother and I were both praying to God and, to be honest, we were discussing various scenarios. At one point, I had to sign these documents. It was a will. If I would die in the hospital, part of my money would go to my mum.

“Nobody wanted to raise this issue, but it needed to be dealt with because there was a chance that I would die there and then. I remember lying in bed. All I could see were tubes and wires on my body.

“My body was broken. I was not capable of anything. The worst things went through my mind.” 

Doctors told Van Dijk’s mother that his incredible natural fitness was the only reason he had survived the lethal conditions. He spent many days in intensive care, before finally being allowed to return to training with Groningen. However, when he did so, he had lost more than a stone in weight.

The Netherland international would go on to make a full return, it was only the smart thinking of his mother which apparently saved his life after a number of symptoms were missed at a local medical facility.

“At first, we thought he had the flu, he was at home for a few days with a great deal of abdomen pain,” former coach Dick Lukkien detailed.

“He went to the local hospital but they couldn’t find anything wrong, so they sent him home.

“It was only his mother who saw that this was not normal and took him back to the hospital, it was crucial to saving his life.”

Luckily, the 27-year-old had overcome all the diseases and produce an unimaginable professional career. Extraordinary performances with both Celtic and Southampton that led to a £70m move to Liverpool, and Van Dijk has promised to strive to compensate the Reds‘ belief in him by leading them to the Premier League trophy.

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