Social distancing hampers efforts to find missing Briton in Amsterdam

Premier League stars including Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk and Andy Robertson have supported efforts to find a 21-year-old man missing in Amsterdam.

Matthew McCombe, from East Kilbride, was last seen in the Dutch city on the morning of Saturday 14 March – the same day that restrictive measures were placed on the public in Amsterdam as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Matthew, the grandson of Celtic and Scotland football legend Billy McNeill, had gone to Amsterdam with friends to celebrate his 21st birthday, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Image:
Matthew McCombe with his mother Paula

A number of figures from the football world have backed efforts to raise awareness of the search for him by sharing family appeals on social media, including Liverpool legend Sir Kenny Dalglish and Celtic Football Club.

Matthew had been staying with friends at the Novotel City Hotel in the centre of Amsterdam.

He was seen on CCTV leaving the hotel around 6.15am on 14th March and left without taking his phone or any form of ID.

He was then spotted between 6.50am and 7.30am crossing the Berlagebrug bridge towards east Amsterdam near the Amstel station.

Subsequently, CCTV recorded him running on the same bridge at 8.15am that morning, again heading towards the east of the city.

Matthew was wearing a sky blue Stone Island jumper, dark blue Levi jeans and blue velvet trainers.

Image:
A CCTV image of when Matthew McCombe left his hotel

Matthew’s parents, 49 year-old Paula and Charlie, 55, have been in Amsterdam and have been joined by dozens of local volunteers in the search for their son – but it has been hampered by social distancing restrictions, as volunteers are now unable to search in groups.

His uncle, Martyn McNeill, told Sky News: “Matthew is a smashing young man and we’re worried sick about him.

“We’re very grateful for all the support so far in trying to trace him and it’s vital we reach as many people as we can. We would ask anyone who was in the city at the time: did you see anyone matching his description around the Novotel Hotel or the Berlageburg bridge?

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“Have you seen anything in the days since that might provide a clue? The smallest thing could be crucial to the search for him.

“The police and authorities are, of course, stretched by having to deal with the coronavirus outbreak but we trust in their focus on the search for him.”

Dutch police have used specially-trained search dogs and deployed sonar boats on Amsterdam’s River Amstel.

Matthew, a keen footballer himself, was a pallbearer at the funeral of his grandfather Billy McNeill when the former Celtic player, manager and Lisbon Lion passed away in 2019.