Virgil van Dijk success the ‘inspiration’ for new Celtic defender

The Liverpool captain spent two years at Celtic at Celtic before departing for Southampton in 2015.

Virgil van Dijk the ‘inspiration’ for Celtic new boy Gustaf Lagerbielke SNS Group

Celtic’s newest signing has namechecked Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk as his inspiration to be a success in Scotland.

Gustaf Lagerbielke completed his move to Glasgow on Wednesday from Allsvenskan side Elfsborg as he put pen to paper on a five-year-deal at the Scottish champions.

And he has set his sights high by aiming to emulate the career of the Dutch defender who spent just over two years at the Hoops after signing in 2013, winning two Premiership titles and a League Cup.

The 23-year-old was brought in following the departure of fellow Swede Carl Starfelt to Celta Vigo and has many more compatriots to choose from if he wants to find more encouragement that he can be a success at Celtic Park, including the likes of club legend Henrik Larsson as well as multiple league winning defenders Mikael Lustig and Johan Mjallby.

Lagerbielke admitted the Swedish connection was a factor in moving to Celtic, given his countrymen adapted so well to life in Scotland.

But it was Van Dijk, who has won the English Premier League and the Champions during his time at Anfield, who Lagerbielke looked up to as an aspiring defender.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, he said: “Virgil van Dijk, who has been here before, is a huge inspiration.

“Also how he is outside of the pitch, he is very professional and keen on getting better all the time. And on the pitch of course with his leadership, duelling and passing, he is a really good player.

“He was a great player for Celtic and did a lot of good things, so he is an inspiration.”

Lagerbielke joins Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stephen Welsh, Yuki Kobayashi and summer signing Maik Nawrocki in the ranks of Brendan Rodgers’ central defenders.

When asked to tell Celtic fans what kind of player he is, he said: “I would describe myself as a player who loves to win, who does everything for the team. I can handle both short and long-range passes, good in duelling and in the air and hopefully scores a few goals.”

Lagerbielke won his first Sweden cap earlier this year and is determined to do everything he can to be a success in his career.

“I put a lot of time and effort into optimising how I am on the pitch – sleep, nutrition and everything around that,” he said.

“If you are a footballer and you feel well in your life then you perform better on the pitch.

“It’s the whole package now, you just try to get it all as good as possible to perform on the pitch.

“In my former teams I have taken a lot of responsibility myself to develop and invest in my career.”

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