Dutch hero Van Dijk consoles tearful referee moments after scoring late equalizer vs Germany (VIDEO)
Van Dijk volleyed home in the 90th minute to seal a Netherlands comeback from 2-0 down in Germany, at the same time securing the point the Dutch needed to top their UEFA Nations League group and progress to next year’s semi-finals.
The Liverpool defender continued to show his class after the final whistle when he was seen comforting Romanian official Ovidiu Hategan, who recently lost his mother.
Footage showed Van Dijk embracing a tearful Hategan and putting his hand on the back of his head.
After the game, the Dutch skipper said modestly that the gesture was just “a small thing” to help the official through his bereavement.
"That man broke down, stood with tears in his eyes because he had just lost his mother,” said the 27-year-old defender.
"I wished him strength and said that he had done well. It's a small thing, but maybe it helps him," he added.
It is reported that Hategan had opted to proceed with the game despite his recent loss, although his grief was evident as he blew up for full-time at the Veltins-Arena.
Germany took an early lead in Gelsenkirchen through goals from Timo Werner and Leroy Sane inside the first 20 minutes.
However, they paid for not capitalizing further on their dominance as the Dutch struck twice inside the last five minutes, the first coming from an edge-of-the-box strike from Quincey Promes, before Van Dijk scored a majestic volley past Manuel Neuer at the back post.
The result put the Netherlands top of Nations League Group A1 on seven points, the same number as France but ahead by virtue of a better head-to-head record.
Progress to next year’s semi-finals of the inaugural UEFA event - where they will meet England, Switzerland or Portugal - will come as some solace for a nation that failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia this summer.
The Netherlands have rebuilt under Ronald Koeman and are starting to display some of swagger for which the men in orange have been renowned down the years.
For Germany, who were already relegated from the group before last night’s game, the late Dutch drama is yet another blow in what has been a year to forget.
Joachim Low’s men were dumped out at the group stage of the World Cup, and have lost six games in a single calendar year for the first time ever.
Speaking about the late Dutch comeback, Low said: "This kind of thing seems to be the story of our entire year."