Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has opened up on his emotional return from injury – admitting he "could've shed a tear" when Jurgen Klopp hugged him just before his return to the pitch.
Van Dijk was sidelined for nine months after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in the Reds 2-2 draw with Everton last October.
After a gruelling rehab period, the Dutch defender made his long-awaited return in the pre-season friendly with Hertha Berlin.
Van Dijk was given the captains armband for his cameo role in Germany.
And the 30-year-old has lifted the lid on his embrace with Klopp before making his official return to action.
"I remember the moment when we were ready to come on and the manager came up to me and gave me a hug," van Dijk told the club's website.
"I could've shed a tear there, that was how emotional I was. It was the relief thing, you work so hard for this moment.
"It was a special day for me, my family and the people who work with me."
The Dutchman has been an absolute colossus at the back for Liverpool since his £75m transfer from Southampton back in 2018.
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He's played a key role in both European and domestic success – forming the foundation for Liverpool to end an agonising 30-year league title drought.
Van Dijk was also named as the PFA Player of the Year two years ago after transforming the Reds' defence.
He made his Premier League return in the opening day victory over Norwich.
"Obviously the thing is I have played and the first one was very emotional and very tough for many reasons," he told the Echo after the 3-0 win.
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"You visualise the game so many times in your head before you actually play so as I said to the club I was not tired because of the game – I was tired because of everything around it.
"And it was sort of like a hurdle. I had to get over that I felt like then it will come again. So that is what happened in my point of view.
"I kept training well and felt confident in my knee. What is very important is that I kept my fitness up and we kept a clean sheet."
Van Dijk and Liverpool return to Premier League action with a trip to Leeds United this Sunday.
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