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Celtic deserve to be proud of new record: Virgil van Dijk

By Ronnie Esplin

Virgil van Dijk knows some people in Holland feel he has it too easy as a Celtic defender – but the Dutchman insists there has been nothing simple about their record-breaking run.

Van Dijk helped Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster keep a club-record 11th consecutive clean sheet during Sunday's 1-0 win over St Mirren, which stretched their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to 21 points.

When asked if people in his homeland viewed Scottish football as too easy for him, the 22-year-old said: "Some of them, yes, but you still have to do it and it's not easy to be unbeaten for so many games and break clean sheet records. So they have a lot of respect for that.

"I think all the team should be proud of the record we set. The back four and Fraser are doing a good job and we are very proud."

Van Dijk, who moved to Scotland from Groningen last summer, added: "Everything is new for me so I learn a lot every day. It will only improve my qualities and the way I'm playing."

The former Holland Under-21 defender believes Forster is worthy of a World Cup spot.

"I think he's a phenomenal goalkeeper and maybe one of the best in the world," Van Dijk said. "He has shown he is a world-class goalkeeper and he proved himself in the Champions League so he deserves to go to the World Cup."

Further Reading

Celtic's record-breakers are no invincibles 

Celtic take a break from chasing league records when they host Aberdeen in the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Professional Football League confirmed Celtic had escaped punishment over an "offensive" banner displayed during Aberdeen's last visit to Parkhead on November 23.

The SPFL launched an investigation after fans held aloft a large 'H' symbol – representing the Maze Prison block where 10 Irish Republicans died on hunger strike in 1981 – alongside lyrics derived from Flower of Scotland, "they fought and died for their wee bit hill and glen".

A statement said: "The SPFL found that the banner was offensive and breached the SPFL's rules. However, Celtic FC were able to demonstrate that they had taken all reasonably practicable steps to prevent the banner being displayed at Celtic Park.

"As a result, it was determined that there was no evidence of any breach of the SPFL's rules by Celtic FC."

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