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Socialising is strength, says Celtic's van Dijk

VIRGIL van Dijk reckons that socialising off the field is the secret behind Celtic's record-threatening defensive efforts, writes Stewart Fisher.

Van Dijk: happy at Celtic
Van Dijk: happy at Celtic

The giant Dutchman has been a cornerstone of a back four which has now gone 855 domestic minutes without conceding a goal, a record they will defend today at Easter Road.

The 22-year-old puts much of the credit for that down to his partnership with Efe Ambrose, a man he counts as a friend.

"I've not experienced bonding with a defensive partner this quickly in my career before," said Van Dijk, shrewdly picked up from Groningen for a fee around £2.6m during the summer.

"The first game I played was with [Steven] Moyoukolo but after that everything went well with Efe. He's a friend of mine now, on the pitch and off it. If you have a good bond with each other away from football it helps when you're playing."

Between 1986 and 1987, Chris Woods of Rangers, went 1196 domestic minutes of competitive football without conceding a goal, although the Scottish record in domestic matches is contested terrain, with Celtic's Charlie Shaw, in the days of less complete recording, believed to have gone 1287 minutes without conceding.

"All I think is that if we keep a clean sheet, we'll win the game," said Van Dijk. "We always score so it's something we always have in mind, not any kind of record."

The Dutchman has been mentioned in connection with a £10m move to Arsenal or Manchester City, but the player doesn't expect too much to happen before the transfer window closes on Friday.

"You never know what can happen but I'm feeling alright here," he said. "I'm having a great time, enjoying every game and every day I'm at Celtic."

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