Van Dijk suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage in October last year, following a challenge from Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside Derby. It forced him to miss the remainder of the season and the summer's Euros with Holland.
"I didn't go to the euros so I had a proper off season in Portugal with the physio and worked very hard [but] you can't replicate what you're going to face in training," he told ofmanny's Twitch channel.
“When I reported back for pre-season in Austria I was a bit nervous - but nervous in the way that, 'How is it going to feel? How is it going to react?'
“You're working towards your first minutes. So you know when the games are and I'm just communicating with the physio every time about, 'When is it going to happen?''"
He continued: “The game against Hertha [during pre-season] was the first game we played.
“Me and Joey [Gomez] played 20 minutes and I could have shed a tear when I was standing on the side there with Joe. We worked so hard for that moment."
Despite being a challenging time for the squad, Van Dijk credited his team-mates for their strong end to the campaign and explained how Joe Gomez's own injury impacted him.
“Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips, they made sure that we got the Champions League, obviously together with the other boys, but they stepped in and did well," he said.
“But for that moment to have each other was massive. I had a missed call actually from him [Gomez] the week after my injury but he never calls me.
“When we speak it's FaceTime or when we see each other, so I was a bit like, 'What's going on here?' Then I saw the news that Joe Gomez is injured and I couldn't believe what I saw.
“So I called him back and he was on the way to London in the ambulance I think.
“It was horrible, but to have each other helped massively and so far we're going strong."
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