PROUD captain Virgil van Dijk announced that the 3-0 Europa League victory over Sparta Prague was the “perfect” night for Saints after their recent struggles – and urged his team to build on the result.

In the absence of usual skipper Jose Fonte, who was on the bench as Claude Puel rotated his squad, the Dutch central defender took the armband, which he labelled “a great honour”, writes Peter Howard.

Van Dijk was elated after the triumph and wants Saints now to build some momentum by recording their first Premier League victory of the season against Swansea on Sunday.

“It feels great,” the 25-year-old said after the Sparta win, in which Charlie Austin netted a brace and Jay Rodriguez grabbed his second of the season. “It’s the first win of the season and we fully deserved it.

“We played great football – good goals and a great night.”

“I think three goals at home, a clean sheet is the perfect night for us and hopefully we can build on this now,” he added.

On taking the captain’s armband, he said: “It’s an honour to lead my team out and I’m very proud to be captain of Southampton today and I’m glad we had the win.”

After getting their Europa League campaign off to a flying start, Saints will now look to get his first victory in the league on Sunday.

“Yes, for sure, we were working hard, we were a bit unlucky with the results but today we showed a great game and great goals, so I’m very happy,” Van Dijk said when asked if it was a relief to get their first win of the season.

The former Celtic defender reckons it is vital to build on the confidence and momentum that the Sparta result breathes into the team “It’s very important,” he stated.

“We can build on this and take the momentum with us and it’s going to be a very tough game, they did well against Chelsea last weekend, so we need to be up for it.

“But if we play like we did today, we have a good chance.”

He continued: “It takes a bit of time, but today we played a great game. We scored three great goals and that’s the key. It was a great night for the club and we need to take this with us and get a win this Sunday.”