BERNAT LÓPEZ / ©XTREMFOOTBALL
Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk has explained why he consoled the referee after his side’s 2-2 draw with Germany. The Liverpool star scored late on as Oranje recovered from 2-0 down to earn a point which secured their place in the finals of the UEFA Nations League.
Following on from a dismal performance at the World Cup in the summer, Germany started off strong against the Dutch when Timo Werner opened the scoring in the first ten minutes and Leroy Sané doubled their lead shortly afterward. The Dutch rallied back late on when Quincy Promes scored before van Dijk stepped up and added a second to level the score to 2-2 at full-time.
Once the full-time whistle sounded at the Veltins Arena on Monday evening, Van Dijk consoled Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan. And Van Dijk has since revealed the reason for the beautiful gesture was because the official had learned of his mother’s passing, with Digi Sport reporting that Hategan heard the news at half-time of the match after asking his family to be kept informed.
In quotes reported by Voetbal International, he said: “He told me his mum recently passed away. He broke down and started crying. I consoled him and told him he refereed well. It’s a small thing, but I hope it helped”.
Hategan, a 38-year-old Romanian referee hailing from Arad, became a FIFA-standard official in 2008. Monday’s fixture was the first Nations League tie officiated by Hategan, who also has three previous UEFA Champions League games to his name.