Netherlands manager Frank de Boer admits that it pains him to think that Virgil van Dijk will still be without a full international tournament under his belt this summer.
Van Dijk has risen over recent seasons to become one of the world’s best defenders at Liverpool. In doing so, his international status has also increased and he became his country’s captain in 2018. However, he has yet to gain any proper experience with his country; the Netherlands did not qualify for either Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup.
As such, Euro 2020 looked to be the next best opportunity for the defender to do so.
However, the tournament’s postponement to this summer has cruelly coincided with the serious knee injury Van Dijk suffered in October.
The defender subsequently faced a race to make the competition, but he announced on Tuesday that he would not be taking part. Instead, he will focus on the final part of his rehabilitation and a strong pre-season with Liverpool.
Therefore, unlike his international colleagues, Van Dijk will miss out on a long-awaited tournament appearance, something De Boer regrets.
“I am especially sorry for him because he is our captain and has never seen a full tournament,” the manager told NU.
“We had already taken it into account and, in the end, he had to make his own decision. We have to respect this decision.
“There’s hope he’ll have more tournaments to play, starting with the World Cup in Qatar, if we qualify for that.
“I spoke to Virgil and he’s just realistic. It’s very unfortunate for us.”
Expectations are unclear for the Netherlands this summer, given their recent lack of experience in tournaments.
They play Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia in their three Group C games.
Van Dijk on Euro 2020 snub
Speaking earlier this week, Van Dijk said: “With everything that is going on, I feel physically it is the right decision that I’ve decided not to go to the Euros and to go into my last phase of rehab during the off-season.
“So, the full focus will be on pre-season with the club and that’s a realistic goal.
“So I am looking forward to that.”