Wednesday 20 September 2017

'Thanks for being the best you can be' - Joost van der Westhuizen's son pens emotional letter tribute to his late father

Jordan van der Westhuizen paid tribute to his late father
Jordan van der Westhuizen paid tribute to his late father

Callum Davis

Joost van der Westhuizen's son has written a heartfelt letter to his father after the South African World Cup winner passed away on Monday.

The former Springbok died at his home after losing his battle with motor neurone disease, six years after being diagnosed with the illness.

Joost's son, Jordan, penned an emotional letter in which he paid tribute to his father as a role model and a sportsman.

Beneath a letterhead entitled 'tribute from Jordan van der Westhuizen,' he wrote: "Thank you for everything but most of all for 'bei[ing] the best 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."

Written before Liverpool's Premier League fixture against Tottenham, Jordan van der Westhuizen asked his dad to "tell God that Liverpool must win," before finishing the letter with "you will never walk alone! I love you so much."

Van der Westhuizen was remembered with a minute's silence before England's Six Nations match against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

The players and fans stood in silence before breaking into spontaneous applause in a touching mark of respect.

Wales coach Rob Howley paid tribute to his former opposite number ahead of his team's narrow defeat to England.

"It is devastating to hear of the passing of Joost," said Howley.  "We all know his qualities on the pitch, he was a fantastic rugby player and for me was the best nine I played against. He had the ability to score tries from five or 70 yards, he was that good.

"He was a world class nine who was respected throughout the rugby world."

Van der Westhuizen's coffin was carried by his 1995 World Cup-winning teammates in an official funeral service on Friday.

Mark Andrews, who played alongside the former Springbok captain in their famous triumph over New Zealand, told the Telegraph that his former teammate was as fierce in fighting his illness as he had been on the rugby field.

"He was a competitor until the end," said Andrews. "There was nothing that stood in his way of being a champion.

"He never gave up, he didn’t know how to. He treated his illness in the same way. They gave him a couple of years to live and six years later he has only just succumbed."

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