Van Dijk: Huge honour for me

Date published: Friday 24th April 2015 3:20

And the Dutch defender – who joins team-mate Stefan Johansen, Greg Stewart of Dundee and Aberdeen’s Adam Rooney on the shortlist – claimed the news of his inclusion was the perfect fillip after last weekend’s Scottish Cup exit.

Celtic saw their treble hopes ended by Inverness Caledonian Thistle in a controversial five-goal thriller at the national stadium, a defeat the Dutchman admitted ‘left him shattered’.

But Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Dundee lifted the Hoops eight points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the table and within sight of the title and Van Dijk feels a fourth successive crown will go some way to healing the hurt of Hampden.
 
“It’s an honour of course to be nominated for a second successive season,” said Van Dijk, who has scored 10 goals in 54 appearances for the Hoops this season.

“I’m very happy and proud of myself and my team mates who have also been nominated. It has been a season that didn’t start that well with the new manager, we needed to settle down first and there was a lot of criticism on us.

“But I think in the end we did an amazing job and we almost had the treble but everybody knows how disappointed we are about that. We want to get the title soon and it starts on Sunday against Dundee United.”

‘Leader’

Van Dijk, who was brought to Celtic by former boss Neil Lennon in a £2.5m deal from Groningen, has promised there is more to come from him next season as he strives to become more of a leader, on and off the park.

“A big highlight for me is the fact I have 10 goals this season, but the biggest highlight is the progress we have made from the beginning of the season until now,” added the 23-year-old.

“It’s good to see and for myself now I want to be more of a leader. I want to talk more and I want to be a bigger example for younger players.”

“Playing in Scotland is special and it’s a big honour to be on the shortlist. It’s a lot of hard work for the whole season and if you get on the shortlist it’s great to get recognition as well from other players in the league. I am very proud of that and happy about it as well.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s game against Dundee United – the seventh meeting between the clubs this season – Van Dijk admits he expects another tough encounter with Jackie McNamara’s side at Tannadice, live on Sky Sports.

“We have played a lot against them this season but I think we have a good record as well,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough game away there, on a bad pitch probably. 

“But we need to be up for it and ready for the battle. We’ll try and play our game, they will as well but we will be ready and hopefully we win the game.”

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