Neil Lennon: Celtic boss 'a special manager and special man,' says Virgil van Dijk

By Daldeep KaurBBC Sport Scotland
Virgil van Dijk won three trophies in two years under Neil Lennon at Celtic
Virgil van Dijk won three trophies in two years under Neil Lennon at Celtic
Scottish Premiership: Celtic v Kilmarnock
Venue: Celtic Park Date: Sunday, 23 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Celtic boss Neil Lennon is a "special manager and special man," says Virgil van Dijk, whom he helped develop into one of the world's finest defenders.

The Dutchman was a raw 21-year-old full of potential when Lennon took him from FC Groningen to Celtic in 2013.

The Liverpool centre-back's rise since has been startling - but he believes it would not have been possible without Lennon.

"I enjoyed every bit of working under him," Van Dijk told BBC Scotland.

The Champions League-winner added: "I appreciate all the people who have helped me in my career and got me where I am today.

"He brought me to Celtic so I'll always be grateful to him for that. He has been part of my journey so far. He was good.

"Obviously he was a player himself - he knows how we think, what we go through. As a manager he's very direct, he tells you straight what is right and wrong. He's a special manager and special man."

Van Dijk's transition to British football was seamless, winning two Scottish Premiership titles and a League Cup in his two-year Celtic stay, while quickly building a reputation as a talent destined for big things.

He left for Southampton in a £13m deal in 2015 and became the world's most expensive defender when joining Liverpool for £75m in January 2018.

The Netherlands international, though, retains a keen interest in Celtic and is convinced his former club will be celebrating a ninth successive title in May.

"I still watch Celtic games," he added. "I have friends there - I'm still in contact with Nir Bitton - and I always keep an eye on how things are going.

"It's 10 points' difference now so it's not going to be in danger any more - it is Celtic's title."

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