FORMER Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk may be flying high at Liverpool but even though his talent was obvious, it wasn’t to everyone who watched him.
The Dutchman left Celtic for Southampton in a deal worth £12million but Celtic raked in much more when the club cashed in on his future fee clause when Liverpool came calling and made him the most expensive defender in world football.
While at Celtic, the defender regularly put on man of the match displays and looked comfortable on the ball.
This means there were many scouts from early on in the defender’s Celtic career taking a look at what he could do.
One scout from the Premier League lifts the lid on his experience of watching the Dutchman play for Celtic – something he was tasked to do by West Brom and his reports that it was an absolute slam dunk fell on deaf ears.
“In my time at West Brom, I had to watch van Dijk 20 times. That was my brief. Stuart Millar told SunSport.
“I knew after 20 minutes that he was good enough to play in the English Premier League.
“I recommended him to Tony Pulis and said, ‘We must sign him’. I put on the report, ‘If we sign Van Dijk we’ll double our money in two years’.
“I got that wrong because it was about 10 times the value they got back.
“Unfortunately West Brom didn’t pursue that, which was frustrating on my part and ultimately why I left West Brom – because I was certain I was recommending a player who was top notch.
“I think it should be an embarrassment to every other club that watched him and didn’t pursue him.”
It must have been frustrating for Stuart Millar to watch West Brom overlook the defender. There’s still a lot of snobbery down south about players plying their trade in Scotland and it could have just been a case of they didn’t rate the advice due to where Virgil was playing.
The scout left his post to take up a job in Scotland after the debacle.
With many scouts watching him it was only Southampton that stumped up the fee and I don’t think they ever regretted doing so.
Virgil is not the captain of his country, played in a Champions League final and is currently help spearhead Liverpool’s EPL push.