Virgil van Dijk was understandably delighted with his goal-scoring debut for Liverpool in their FA Cup 2-1 win over Everton, while his manager Jurgen Klopp was just as pleased.
Van Dijk was signed by Liverpool for £75m to shore up their leaky defence, but came to their rescue in the third round clash against their Merseyside rivals with an 84th minute winner.
Speaking to the club’s official website, the Dutchman said: “I don’t think it can get any better. It was a fantastic night.
“It was unlucky that we conceded but to score the winner in a derby on my debut is something every little boy dreams of. I just did it.
Liverpool debut ✅
Merseyside Derby ✅
Goal in front of The Kop ✅ pic.twitter.com/gZ5tvUs34I
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 6, 2018
“I’m very happy that we got through to the next round. We have a good chance to win this [cup]. I’m very happy to have my debut, to score and to win. It’s just fantastic.”
He added: “From what I’ve seen over the last couple of days – I’ve only been with the group for four or five days – it’s a special group with a lot of quality, a lot of presence and a lot of personality.
“Everyone has welcomed me very well. I just want to improve and work hard for the team, the club and the fans every day.
“There is still plenty of room for improvement. It’s just the start.
“I haven’t played a game for the last three weeks; I was very happy that I got the chance and I’m very happy that we went through to the next round. It was a tough game but we’re through.”
And his manager Jurgen Klopp was similarly delighted to see his expensive new signing come good immediately.
An upbeat Klopp told the club’s official website: “Yes, nice one! A fairytale in a world with not a lot of fairytales anymore, so I think something like that is quite special.
“It was a difficult decision to make, to be honest, because, to be 100 per cent honest, the first plan was not to start him tonight but then Dejan (Lovren) and Raggy (Ragnar Klavan) played a lot of games in the last few weeks, so I changed my mind this morning. And it helped!
“They [had] little muscle issues, but could have played with a little higher risk than usual. I made the decision this morning that Virgil will start – and obviously it was a good idea in the end because the whole game was good.
“He showed a lot of things we want him to show in the future very often tonight; heading of course, football-wise his first touch was good, good under pressure and then around set-pieces a proper threat. Cool, but you cannot score a header off a set-piece if nobody is doing the cross and Oxlade-Chamberlain for a second time in a row made a goal from this – at Burnley it was a free-kick and now it was a corner, so that’s very important for us.”
He added: “It was a big fight, it was not brilliant football, it was not the most beauty – it was how cup games should be. It is not about who is the better side, who can do this or that.
“We had to really work a lot and that’s all we were asking for before the game – we said we needed to be ready for the hardest work because we want to go to the next round and everyone needs to see that.”