Neil Lennon: Celtic boss 'a special manager and special man,' says Virgil van Dijk
|Scottish Premiership: Celtic v Kilmarnock|
|Venue: Celtic Park Date: Sunday, 23 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT|
|Coverage: Listen BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app|
Celtic boss Neil Lennon is a "special manager and special man," says Virgil van Dijk, whom he helped develop into one of the world's finest defenders.
The Dutchman was a raw 21-year-old full of potential when Lennon took him from FC Groningen to Celtic in 2013.
The Liverpool centre-back's rise since has been startling - but he believes it would not have been possible without Lennon.
"I enjoyed every bit of working under him," Van Dijk told BBC Scotland.
The Champions League-winner added: "I appreciate all the people who have helped me in my career and got me where I am today.
"He brought me to Celtic so I'll always be grateful to him for that. He has been part of my journey so far. He was good.
"Obviously he was a player himself - he knows how we think, what we go through. As a manager he's very direct, he tells you straight what is right and wrong. He's a special manager and special man."
Van Dijk's transition to British football was seamless, winning two Scottish Premiership titles and a League Cup in his two-year Celtic stay, while quickly building a reputation as a talent destined for big things.
He left for Southampton in a £13m deal in 2015 and became the world's most expensive defender when joining Liverpool for £75m in January 2018.
The Netherlands international, though, retains a keen interest in Celtic and is convinced his former club will be celebrating a ninth successive title in May.
"I still watch Celtic games," he added. "I have friends there - I'm still in contact with Nir Bitton - and I always keep an eye on how things are going.
"It's 10 points' difference now so it's not going to be in danger any more - it is Celtic's title."