Netherlands defender scores equalizer, immediately consoles grieving referee

Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/players/380942/" data-ylk="slk:Virgil Van Dijk">Virgil Van Dijk</a> scored the equalizer, but the celebration had to wait. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)
Virgil Van Dijk scored the equalizer, but the celebration had to wait. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

Netherlands defender Virgil van Dijk followed up his 90th-minute equalizer with a touching embrace for a referee who is going through a loss far larger than a soccer game.

Ovidiu Hategan, 38, officiated Monday’s game between the Netherlands and Germany in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, even though his mother died in the “build-up to the match,” according to BBC News

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Van Dijk, also a defender for Liverpool, scored an injury-time equalizer to draw, 2-2, with Germany and ensure the Netherlands reached the semifinals of the UEFA Nations League. As his team celebrated around him, van Dijk consoled the tearful Hategan.

“That man broke down, stood with tears in his eyes because he had just lost his mother,” van Dijk said.

“I wished him strength and said he had refereed well. It’s a small thing, but I hope it helped him.”


Hategan officiated Barcelona’s Champions League victory over Inter Milan last month and the second leg of Manchester United’s Europa League semifinal win over Celta Vigo in 2017.

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