Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum is looking forward to experiencing his first ever Merseyside derby as the Reds prepare to take on Everton at Goodison Park on Monday.
The £25 million summer signing is used to huge derby occasions as he experienced the fierce Tyne-Wear derby twice last season when playing for Newcastle, as well as in his earlier years at Feyernoord and PSV Eindhoven who battle against rivals Ajax.
The central midfielder is well accustomed to the hostile greeting that rival fans willingly hand out but he believes that “you must enjoy it” and feed off the booing and chanting.
“Enjoy the rivalry, enjoy the fans from Everton booing you, that’s the best way. It will make you give your best and try even harder to win the game.”
The Dutch international admits that he didn’t fully realise the extent of the rivalry between the two clubs until he arrived on Merseyside in the summer.
He noticed the close proximity of the two stadiums “when I played my first game with Liverpool at Anfield” as the midfielder was on the way to the ground and began to realise just how important the game is.
Speaking to Liverpoolfc.com, he said: “I was new here so I didn’t know a lot of the city. I looked outside the bus and saw a stadium and thought, ‘That’s not our stadium’, but then I realised it was Everton’s. And then I looked on the other side and could see Anfield. I never realised it was so close.”
Gini: It's a Big Game
Despite it being one of the biggest fixtures of the season, Gini, admitted “the derby was not my first thought” when he signed for the club but quickly became aware that “Everton is also in this city” making the match “a big game.”
“Two clubs in one city, the stadiums so close, the fans from both teams want to win this game."
Wijnaldum also noted that he “can imagine this is bigger because it’s the same city” than previous derbies he has been involved in (Newcastle v Sunderland) and both sets of fans have alerted him to how important this fixture is.
“When I’m in the city centre and I see supporters, they always say they really want us to beat Everton – even when the game was so far ahead. You can see it that it’s a big game for them."
The 26-year-old will therefore be looking to gain all three points and help Liverpool continue their current 12 game unbeaten run against the Blues.