'Playing with Virgil van Dijk was depressing - Liverpool captain's arrogance is class'

Virgil van Dijk jogs during a warm-up.
-Credit: (Image: Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Former Southampton star James Ward-Prowse has opened up about the sheer natural talent of Virgil van Dijk, revealing that the Liverpool ace's effortless abilities were, in his words, "depressing" to witness during their days at the club.

The Saints had struck gold when they snapped up Van Dijk from Celtic back in 2015, and little did they know the Dutchman would become a genuine superstar. Fast-forward to Euro 2024, and the 32-year-old Van Dijk is showcasing his prowess on an international stage with the Netherlands.

It was during their stint together at Southampton that Van Dijk's inherent quality managed to stir a sense of envy in his teammates. Ward-Prowse, who before his move to West Ham in 2023 shared the same pitch with the defender, expressed his thoughts on Ben Foster's podcast, 'The Fozcast'.

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He reminisced, telling Foster "it's depressing" how easy Van Dijk made it look. Remembering those gym sessions when everyone else was pushing their limits, he recounted: "When Virgil got to Southampton, you'd be in the gym after lunch, doing your leg weights, trying to get quicker, trying to get stronger but he just had everything. He'd just be walking to his car with his washbag [and say], 'See ya lads!'"

Ward-Prowse laughingly described his futile efforts to keep up: "You're there grafting away, trying to improve yourself, but he just had it all. [Naturally] quick, strong, and when he came to the club, he tried to take a few free-kicks as well. So I thought, 'Ooh, I've got a bit of competition here.'"

Foster shared insights from Fraser Forster, a former colleague of Van Dijk's at both Celtic and Southampton, who knew the Dutchman was destined for greater things. Ward-Prowse echoed this sentiment, praising Van Dijk's elite physicality and composure.

Van Dijk is currently captaining the Netherlands at Euro 2024
Van Dijk is currently captaining the Netherlands at Euro 2024 -Credit:Getty Images

"I think that physicality he's naturally got [makes him elite], but he's just so calm and composed," Ward-Prowse observed. "He never looks rushed. Even when he's one-on-one with a player, he's almost giving them the line to say, 'Go on, you're not gonna do me here.' That's the quality and sort of arrogance he has and that's class."

Ward-Prowse confidently stated that everyone at Southampton had no doubts about Van Dijk's potential to reach the heights he has, amassing a host of accolades at Liverpool. Van Dijk's role in securing Liverpool's first Premier League title in 30 years, alongside the Champions League, FA Cup, two League Cups, Community Shield, and a FIFA Club World Cup victory, cements his status.

As Van Dijk approaches the last year of his contract, speculation swirls about his future at Liverpool, with Arne Slot keen to retain one of the league's finest defenders. The high regard in which his past teammates hold him underlines the caliber of player Liverpool is eager to keep. says: There is no doubt that Van Dijk is one of the very best center-backs in the world still. That makes it a no-brainer that Liverpool hands him a new contract this summer, a year before his existing one expires.