Virgil van Dijk speaks out after Euro 2024 backlash for Liverpool captain - 'I'm not crazy'

Virgil van Dijk during a media moment of the Dutch national team in the Volkswagen Arena on June 28, 2024 in Wolfsburg, Germany. The Dutch national team is preparing for the round of 16 at the European Football Championship in Germany against Romania.
-Credit: (Image: ANP via Getty Images)

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has come in for some heavy criticism at Euro 2024. Also the captain for his national team, his Netherlands side have not met up to pre-tournament expectations, qualifying third from its group after a defeat to Austria — and he admits it has not been good enough.

Widely praised for reaching his old levels at Liverpool for much of the season — he famously delivered the "they thought I was finished" line after victory in the Carabao Cup, with the Reds still going for four trophies — Van Dijk did suffer something of a downturn in the latter stages of the campaign. But that coincided with the team as a whole hitting a rough patch.

And while Cody Gakpo, his colleague for club and country, has carried his strong individual form from the end of the season into the Euros, Van Dijk has been unable to shake off the malaise. He conceded that he recognizes he can do better.

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“The last match was definitely not my best, but personally that has not happened often this season," Van Dijk told the media, via Sport Witness. "It is important to me that it stops now. That is the responsibility I take now. That responsibility is very great, especially at Oranje. And the criticism affects me."

As often seems to be the case when he goes away with his country, Van Dijk has been called out by a slew of Netherlands legends. Rafael van der Vaart criticized him for a lack of passion.

The Netherlands will now face Romania in the round of 16. And as well as looking at his own performance, Van Dijk revealed he has taken the responsibility as captain to demand higher standards all round.

Stefan de Vrij, Daley Blind, Joey Veerman, Wout Weghorst, Virgil van Dijk, Donyell Malen, Memphis Depay and Matthijs de Ligt during a training session of the Dutch national team at the AOK Stadium on June 28, 2024 in Wolfsburg, Germany. The Dutch national team is preparing for the eighth finals at the European Football Championship in Germany against Romania.
Van Dijk says harsh words have been exchanged within the Netherlands camp. -Credit:ANP via Getty Images

“It goes without saying that I have to take responsibility now,” he said. “We have spoken a lot in the last 48 hours and some harsh words have been spoken.

"That is of course necessary, because some things have certainly happened. I feel like it helped, but it’s really time to show that."

Van Dijk will seek to captain his country into the quarter-finals on Tuesday. Much could rest on Gakpo, who has already netted twice at Euro 2024. says: The Netherlands media landscape seems just as toxic as the situation with England. Barely a game can go by without one of the players, often Van Dijk, being harangued by legends of the past.

Of course, pundits are entitled to an opinion, and Van Dijk has not emulated Harry Kane by trying to tell them off. But it should be obvious that it affects the players, and you have to wonder how productive it is. Best of luck to the Liverpool captain in the next round.