Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has admitted he thinks his long-term knee injury may have actually been a blessing in disguise, as it helped him to focus elsewhere.

The defender has been speaking to de Volksrant about his career so far and his efforts to get back to the form that once had him labelled as the best defender in the world.

The Dutchman was at the peak of his powers for Liverpool in 2020, with a series impressive performances since his arrival at Anfield establishing him among the world’s best.

That all came crashing down after a fateful clash with Everton’s Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby in October 2020, though, with that collision seeing the defender suffering a cruciate ligament rupture in his knee.

That saw him spend a whopping 254 days on the treatment table and miss 57 games out injured as he recovered.

The centre-back is yet to fully get back to the level he was once at, leading to some criticism and doubts about whether he can even hit those heights again.

He’s not focused on that, though, and instead chooses to look at the positives that came out of the injury lay off.

“I never wanted to experience that injury,” the Liverpool star told the newspaper while on international duty with the Netherlands.

“A knee injury is a mental blow for a footballer. I’m happy to be where I am again, after all the hard work. The injury also did me a lot of good, even immediately after the operation.

“I went abroad with my family for seven weeks. We had the best time of our lives together. I will never forget that it has made me so much stronger mentally.

“I can put things into perspective more easily. It is not that football is just a game, but other things are more important, such as family and health.”