Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan was consoled by Virgil van Dijk after the Netherlands 2-2 draw with Germany on Monday.
It is understood the 38-year-old official had discovered his mother had died in the build-up to the match.
And the Liverpool defender showed his human side, embracing the emotional Hategan 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.”
The official recently took charge of Barcelona’s Champions League victory over Inter Milan.
Hategan also refereed the second leg of Manchester United’s Europa League semi-final win over Celta Vigo in 2017, with Jose Mourinho’s side going on to lift the trophy.
Van Dijk’s intervention came just minutes after his injury-time equaliser ensured the Dutch reached the semi-finals of the Nations League.
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.