Within four years of moving to Glasgow from Groningen he became the most expensive defender in the world with the unique demands of playing for Celtic accelerating his development.
Van Dijk took no time to adjust after moving to Southampton and did likewise at Anfield after Celtic collected a £7m slice of his record transfer fee.
The Dutchman has already experienced a Champions League Final but whatever else he achieves in the game two demanding seasons at Celtic left their mark.
“Celtic helped me a lot in making my move to Southampton,” he told the BBC. “I’m always grateful for that.
“It was a great time for me in my development. Three years abroad adapting to the British style of play and winning trophies for such a big club with amazing fans.”
Celtic paid Groningen £2.5m for the defender in the summer of 2013 with van Dijk settling in quickly as Celtic clinched their third successive title.
The following season his partnership with Jason Denayer was critical to another title success under Ronny Deila with Southampton making a £13m move while other English clubs remained unconvinced about the defender.