Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan was consoled by Virgil van Dijk after the Netherlands 2-2 draw with Germany on Monday.
Van Dijk’s 91st-minute equaliser ensured the Dutch reached the semi-finals of the Nations League.
And the Liverpool defender showed his human side embracing the official at the final whistle.
“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.”
Goals from Timo Werner and Leroy Sane had put Germany ahead.
But the Dutch implemented a tactical switch – that manager Ronald Koeman was originally unaware of – with Quincy Promes’ 85th-minute goal initiating their revival.
The Dutch boss passed on hand-written directions, penned by his back-up team, to full-back Kenny Tete which prompted Van Dijk to press forward.
“I got a note from Dwight Lodeweges and Kees van Wonderen,” Koeman said.
“When we were 2-0 down they [my assistants] asked me if we should change things around and I said ‘yes’.”
“Next thing I knew I had the note. So I gave it to Kenny. And in the end it’s fantastic that the equaliser came from the guy who was told on the note to push up front.”