CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp left the son of South African rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen “speechless” after responding to a heart-felt letter written by the boy following his father’s death from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in February.
Klopp sent 13-year-old Jordan van der Westhuizen, like his father an ardent Liverpool fan, a team jersey signed by the squad and a message in which he praised the youngster’s courage in the face of personal tragedy.
In his letter, penned days after his father’s death, Jordan celebrated his father’s talent and also spoke of their shared love for Liverpool.
”Dear Daddy. Thank you for everything, but most of all ‘be[ing] the best that you can be’. You are the best rugby player in the world! I want to be the best sportsman like you‚ because you said I must work hard! I will always love you to the moon and back.
“Daddy, please tell God that Liverpool must win. You will never walk alone. I love you so much.”
Klopp responded with a message of his own.
“We know that your Daddy was a huge fan of Liverpool FC and we’re so pleased that he shared his passion with you. The letter you wrote to him about LFC meant a lot to us ... We hope you will have happy memories of the time you spent with him watching LFC play. You’ll never walk alone‚” Klopp wrote.
Jordan’s mother, Amor Vittone, said her son was overjoyed by the gesture from Klopp and the Anfield club.
“What a huge surprise Jordan received today! A signed Liverpool jersey by the players with the authenticity card [from] Liverpool FC and a personalised letter‚ written to Jordan from Jurgen Klopp! He is speechless and I have goose bumps ...” she said in a post on Instagram on Wednesday.
It comes in a week in which former Scotland international Doddie Weir revealed he was suffering with MND.
Van der Westhuizen is regarded as one of the greatest scrumhalves in rugby history, and won 89 caps for South Africa over a 10-year international career in which he lifted the World Cup in 1995.
He was diagnosed with MND in 2011 and finally succumbed to the incurable disease six years later, leaving behind son Jordan and daughter Kylie.
Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Gareth Jones