Yesterday, Virgil van Dijk made his comeback after nine months out with a horror ACL injury.
He, along with Joe Gomez, featured for the last 20 minutes of Liverpool’s 4-3 loss to Hertha Berlin in their pre-season friendly game.
Fans were ecstatic to see their hero back in a red shirt for the first time since Jordan Pickford’s challenge back in October.
Everyone is hoping that he will return from his injury as the exact same player that he was before it happened.
Yet it is no easy task.
Van Dijk will know that ACL injuries are among the hardest to come back from. Many careers have been ruined after cruciate ligament snaps.
However, there is lots of evidence to show that it most certainly can be done.
Here are three players that came back from ACL injuries better than ever.
The first player to mention is a great friend of van Dijk’s in Memphis Depay.
The Dutchman ruptured his ACL back in December 2019.
He returned for the 2020/21 season and had possibly the best campaign of his career.
Depay scored 20 goals and got 12 assists in 37 Ligue 1 games.
He showed absolutely no signs of his serious injury and looked as sharp as he ever has.
In fact, he was so good that he earned himself a transfer to Barcelona this summer.
If van Dijk needs any tips on how to recover from an ACL injury, then there is someone very close to him that he can talk to.
Xavi is one of the greatest midfielders to ever play the game.
After Lionel Messi, he was probably the key man in Barcelona’s all-conquering side of the Pep Guardiola era.
He also was crucial for Spain in their three-in-a-row of major international trophies.
And he did it after coming back from a torn ACL in 2006.
Admittedly, Xavi’s game was not based on pace. But he was well able to move around the pitch and was rarely injured in his later career, as proven by the fact that he is second on Barca’s all-time appearances list.
If van Dijk wins a fraction of what Xavi did after their respective ACL injuries then there will be no fear of him.
The final one we will mention is Alan Shearer.
The Geordie striker snapped his ACL in his first season with Blackburn in 1992/93.
Yet he went on to become the Premier League’s all-time top scorer in the next decade and a half, so it didn’t seem to phase him.
In fact, he didn’t even need time to get up to speed as he won the Player of the Year award the season after he returned,
While Shearer wasn’t rapid, he was incredibly physical. He dealt with the tough defenders that were playing in the division at the time with ease.
Hopefully, van Dijk will recover as quickly and as effectively as Shearer did.