New Liverpool sensation Virgil van Dijk dropped his dad’s name from his shirt over a family feud that has raged since he was 12, according to the The Sun on Sunday.
Close relatives of the £75m Dutch defender say he has never forgiven his dad Ron for walking out on his mum Hellen.
That is why the 26-year-old uses his first name, rather than his surname, on his shirt.
His mother’s brother Steven Fo Sieeuw has opened up about the bitter rift – as we plot the remarkable rise of the world’s most expensive defender.
Dad-of-two Steven, 40, says: “Virgil has done amazingly well to be such a success given the ups and downs there have been in his family.
“His dad split with his mother and his three children, including Virgil, found it hard to forgive him for that.
“The truth is his dad was not around for so many important years and it is his mother who is the real hero of this story.
“You don’t take your dad’s name off your shirt without a reason and Virgil has made it very clear how he feels.”
Although Ron would take Virgil to matches and to training with youth football team WDS’19, Steven, a trader, insists Hellen played the biggest part in their son’s development.
He says: “She had a full-time job and three kids to look after, so she never had a minute for herself.
“She spent every day going to work then coming home and looking after the kids and doing all the cooking.
“Ron is a nice guy but you need to be more than that to be a good father. You have to be there for your children. Ron married again and his new wife was very domineering so he didn’t see his kids much.
“I feel for Virgil, it’s like he’s been caught in the middle.”
The family feud has continued since Virgil’s big-money transfer to Liverpool earlier this month.
Steven says: “His dad posted something on the internet saying how proud he was of his son. But Virgil’s brother Jordan told him he had no right to be saying these things.”
In response, dad Ron, a TV installer, has accused his ex-wife’s family of only taking an interest in Virgil’s football once he started earning big money.
Dutchman Ron, who says he still has occasional contact with the Liverpool man, told the Sun on Sunday: “I am the only person who knows what has made Virgil the man he is today.
“No one on his mother’s side ever bothered with Virgil and his football until he became a professional.
“I have one word for you on that matter — money.”
His good friend Ico Staneke, 65, adds: “What has happened is heartbreaking for Ron.
“I know he wants to be involved in all of his children’s lives. Virgil is closer to his mother now. Ron hardly speaks to him any more. When he was at Southampton, Virgil invited him down for a game but he said no, he felt it was a token gesture.”