(Reuters) – Defender Virgil van Dijk says the Netherlands are “back where they belong” after sealing automatic qualification for the 2020 European Championship.
The Dutch, who did not qualify for Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup, sealed progress to the finals of next year’s tournament with a game to spare after Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland.
With the finals being held at 12 venues across Europe, the Netherlands could play their group stage matches at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, with the draw being made on Nov. 30.
“I’m very delighted that we are back at the Euros, back where we belong I think,” Van Dijk told reporters. “It means a lot to the people. I’ve heard we’re going to probably play all our group games in Amsterdam, it will be massive.
“It was a big thing for us to miss those tournaments, it was tough. .. We have missed two, maybe we have to get used to it again.”
Ronald Koeman’s side are second in Group C, two points behind leaders Germany — the only side to beat them in the qualifiers.
Van Dijk, who will miss their final qualifier against winless Estonia on Tuesday due to personal reasons, said there was still room for improvement.
“We know we can improve, can do a lot better in certain aspects of the game,” he added. “But you know, we qualified after missing two tournaments, so we have to enjoy it.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)