sport

Coach who hid his cancer fight inspiring Dutch surge

The Netherlands’ masterful dismantling of the United States in their round of 16 clash was a demonstration in both the high level technical and tactical understanding of the situation at hand.

The victory was overseen by veteran Dutch manager Louis van Gaal who is in his third spell with the national team. Van Gaal though revealed in April a different and more personal battle that he was fighting.

Van Gaal had received 25 radiation treatments for an aggressive form of prostate cancer, which coincided with Holland’s World Cup qualifying campaign where he did not inform any of his players of what he was going through.

AS IT HAPPENED: FIFA World Cup 2022 day 16 highlights and results

READ MORE: ‘Unbelievable’ Test win stuns sports world

READ MORE: Iconic tennis coach dies weeks after fake death report

Van Gaal explained his decision during a TV announcement, “I think you don’t tell people you work with like that because it might influence their choices, their decisions.”

The treatment Van Gaal received enabled him to be ready to lead the Dutch in Qatar, with Ajax defender Daley Blind admitting the health of their 71-year-old manager is in the back of the players’ minds.

“From the first moment we didn’t know about it. He did everything he could to keep it from us. He was even going to the hospital during the nights, so as not to show the team what he was going through,” Blind said.

Van Gaal who has managed the likes of Barcelona, ​​Bayern Munich and Manchester United has always been known for his straight-talking manner which at times can be skewed as arrogance. This though has always enamored him to his players, with the confidence and belief he exudes running through many of the teams he has found himself involved with.

His latest involvement with the Dutch national team has seemingly followed a similar trajectory. After their round of 16 victory, Van Gaal claimed that the Dutch had a great opportunity to win the World Cup.

“I think we have big chances here. We still have three matches to go. I’ve been talking about this for a year,” he said. “We can become world champions – not that we will – but we can.”

Van Gaal’s confidence in the collective team spirit that has been built in the Dutch team has been on show in Qatar despite the performances not always matching the individual talent.

Since taking over from Frank de Boer after a disappointing Dutch showing at Euro 2020, Van Gaal has overseen a stunning turnaround from the European powerhouse.

Yet, still the team has its detractors. Dutch legend Marco Van Basten was less than complimentary after the Netherlands’ round of 16 victory, describing the style of play on Dutch channel NOS as “something to cry about”.

“Two great goals, the rest is something to cry about. As a football lover, I asked myself, ‘what am I looking at? Zero initiative,” he said.

Van Gaal though has ignored this criticism and with a combination of experience and young talent, as highlighted by the impressive showings of 23-year-old PSV forward Cody Gakpo who has netted three times in the tournament, it has the Dutch believing that this finally may be the year they win their first World Cup.

To achieve this they will first have to get past an inspired Lionel Messi and Argentina, who are determined to send their little genius out of international football a World Cup winner. The Netherlands and Argentina share a history when it comes to the latter stages of a World Cup including the 1978 final where Argentina won their first World Cup title on home soil against the Dutch, while in 2014 a Messi inspired Argentina knocked out a Van Gaal lead Dutch in the semi-finals.

The quarter-final clash between the Netherlands and Argentina brings together two of the most celebrated nations in world football. The Dutch are desperate to finally win their first World Cup while Argentina continues to be inspired by Messi and his pursuit to finally capture the only title which has eluded him during his glittering career.

These reasons should be motivation enough for both nations but in a game where it could be decided by the smallest of margins, the inspirational figure of Louis van Gaal on the sideline for the Dutch could be the extra inspiration they need to overcome Argentina and take one step closer to the goal of World Champions.

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

#Coach #hid #cancer #fight #inspiring #Dutch #surge

About the author

admin

Leave a Comment