RIA Novosti correspondent tells the path of Louis van Gaal, head coach of the Dutch national football team, who won not only in the fight for medals and cups, but also in the fight against a deadly disease.
The Netherlands national team lost to Argentina in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, but head coach Louis van Gaal deserved a round of applause for his work. Except for Lionel Messi, who said after the match, “Van Gaal always says he plays good football, but he just splurges”. Really?
2 : 33:4
The main star of the current Argentina national team was taking his first steps in football when the name of Louis van Gaal thundered around the world and the game of his Ajax drove millions of fans crazy. Now I can’t believe that Van Gaal wasn’t immediately accepted into the Amsterdam club. When he replaced the young coach Leo Behnhakker in 1991, he was met with a cold reception in both the fans and the press. Some players disliked Van Gaal’s working methods and demanding nature, but he instilled in the team an improved version of total football and started winning.
In 1992, Ajax won the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history, broke PSV’s hegemony two years later and won the national championship, and in 1995 regained the title of the best team in Europe owned by Johan Cruyff. Early 70’s. It wasn’t enough for the second straight win in the Champions League – a few hits in the penalty shootout against Juventus in the final.
All this time, its leaders left Amsterdam in groups – Dennis Bergkamp, Wim Jonk, Clarence Seedorf, Aaron Winter, Stefan Pettersson. And van Gaal, like a magician, got his hands on the youth team and brought out even more talented players from there and showed the world Patrick Kluivert, Nwankwo Kanu, the de Boer brothers, Jari Litmanen and Edgar Davids.
And had it not been for the Bosman Rule, which swept the football transfer market, the pipeline for the production of new stars would continue for many years to come, and van Gaal could have won the Champions League more than 100 times. Once with Ajax. But in the new conditions it was impossible to compete with the giants who were ready to throw money at more or less talented children from the Amsterdam club academy.
From his principles such as bold and difficult decisions, perseverance, perfectionism and youth confidence, van Gaal did not give up even after leaving Ajax. Under him, Victor Valdes and Carles Puyol, Xavi and Andreas Iniesta made their Barcelona debuts, 17-year-old David Alaba and Thomas Müller for Bayern, and forward Marcus Rashford for Manchester United. Van Gaal did not hesitate to retrain and clash with the stars if they did not accept the game model. He had no authority – even Rivaldo took it.
The exhausting training of the Dutch player was legendary, but his teams gave results. For three years with him “Barcelona” won two championships in Spain. With Bayern he took the country’s title, Cup and Super Cup, reached the Champions League final and Manchester United won the FA Cup for the first time in 12 years. There was also the Dutch championship with a modest AZ, which would be equivalent to the victory of the conditional “Wings of the Soviets” in the Russian Premier League.
Van Gaal’s career was not even broken by the terrible word oncology, which he had to face more than once in his life. In 1993, Louis’ first love, his wife Fernanda, was diagnosed with liver cancer and they lived together for more than 20 years and raised two daughters. When doctors gave his wife a terrible diagnosis, van Gaal did everything to save her.
They tried to keep the information about the disease a secret, but still it became known to the public, and then the fans of the rivals of Ajax began to mock Van Gaal in the misfortune, waving posters with offensive inscriptions at the games. “Van Gaal’s bitch is cancer,” they called out to the coach from the stands. Fernanda died in January 1994, and a few months later, Ajax became national champions for the first time under Louis’ leadership. The photo of his first wife is still prominently displayed in the carriage house, even though he has been remarried since 2008.
In 2022, van Gaal himself was diagnosed with cancer. However, he did not leave his post in the national team and did not expand this topic at all. “Prostate cancer doesn’t kill you, so at least 90% of the time it doesn’t. But I had a very aggressive form and had 25 radiotherapy sessions. I didn’t want to say it because I could tell the actors. I went to the hospital at night to have the actors take action so they wouldn’t notice it,” van said. gaal.
Not only did he beat cancer, he also kept his love for the profession and the freshness of his ideas. Most of the people Van Gaal teams fought with in the ’90s – Fabio Capello, Marcello Lippi, Dick Advocaat, Guus Hiddink, Oleg Romantsev – have already completed their careers or are not working at the highest level, and Louis is still in business. one of the best teams in the world.
Van Gaal’s story inspired the national team to fight with more dedication for their coaches. “Van Gaal used to find words to motivate us, but that’s not necessary anymore. We will fight for our coach, we want to win for him and go as far as possible,” said team defender Daly Blind.
Unfortunately, the Dutch players did not get beyond the quarter-finals of the World Cup this time, but respect for van Gaal, who will be replaced by Ronald Koeman in the national team after the tournament in Qatar, has not diminished.
With a passion for storytelling and reporting, I am an experienced writer and Editor with a focus on sports. As an Author at News Unrolled, I write engaging stories on the latest developments in the world of sports. My articles have been featured on numerous global media outlets and my work has been highly praised by renowned editors.