A winner in the Merseyside derby, in front of the Kop, on his debut – for Virgil van Dijk it simply could not get any better.

The Netherlands international made his Liverpool bow in the FA Cup third-round clash with Everton and was the hero of the night after nodding home an 84th-minute decider.

James Milner and Gylfi Sigurdsson had traded earlier goals during a fraught encounter under the Anfield floodlights, before Van Dijk – who completed his transfer to the Reds on New Year’s Day – lived the moment he dreamed of.

“I don’t think it can get any better. It was a fantastic night,” he told Liverpoolfc.com.

“It was unlucky that we conceded but to score the winner in a derby on my debut is something every little boy dreams of. I just did it.

“I’m very happy that we got through to the next round. We have a good chance to win this [cup]. I’m very happy to have my debut, to score and to win. It’s just fantastic.”

Watch: Van Dijk wins the derby at the Kop end

The No.4 has trained with his new teammates at Melwood this week as he integrates into a squad which extended its unbeaten run to 17 games with the victory over Everton.

Van Dijk revealed how the players have made his transition a straightforward one – and insisted this memorable maiden appearance can be merely the beginning for him on a personal level.

“From what I’ve seen over the last couple of days – I’ve only been with the group for four or five days – it’s a special group with a lot of quality, a lot of presence and a lot of personality,” said the 26-year-old.

“Everyone has welcomed me very well. I just want to improve and work hard for the team, the club and the fans every day.

“There is still plenty of room for improvement. It’s just the start.

“I haven’t played a game for the last three weeks; I was very happy that I got the chance and I’m very happy that we went through to the next round. It was a tough game but we’re through.”