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04th Apr 2022

Louis van Gaal reveals remarkable lengths he went to so his players would not find out about cancer treatment

Simon Lloyd

Louis van Gaal

Van Gaal intends to continue in his role as Dutch manager

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal has announced he is receiving treatment for an “aggressive” form of prostate cancer.

The former Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Ajax manager was appearing on RTL TV show Humberto on Sunday evening when he revealed he has been receiving treatment while continuing to prepare his Dutch side for this year’s World Cup.

The 70-year-old said he had not informed his players of his illness and added that he intends to be in charge of his team when the tournament in Qatar begins in November.

van gaal cancer

Van Gaal did not tell players about his cancer treatment

“I think you don’t tell people you work with like that because it might influence their choices, their decisiveness, so I thought they shouldn’t know,” Van Gaal said of his decision not to tell his players.

“You don’t die from prostate cancer, at least not in 90 per cent of cases. It is usually other underlying diseases that kill you.

“But I have a pretty aggressive form, [it] got irradiated 25 times. Then you have a lot of management to do in order to get through life.”

He added that the hospital had made exceptions for him in order to help keep his illness a secret, praising the treatment he has received.

“I did have preferential treatment in the hospital,” he said. “I was allowed in through a back door when I went to an appointment and was immediately pushed into another room. I have been treated wonderfully…

“I didn’t want to tell it to my players because it could have influenced their performances.

“In each period during my time as manager of the national team I had to leave in the night to go to the hospital without the players finding it out until now. While thinking I was healthy, but… I am not.”

Van Gaal also said that only his family and close friends had been aware of his illness before he broke the news on Sunday.

“The fact that nothing has come out yet also says something about my environment,” he said. “That’s great.”

van gaal cancer

Van Gaal came out of retirement last year

Van Gaal appeared to have permanently retired from football management after his departure from Manchester United in 2016.

However, he was named Netherlands coach for a third time last year, having helped them to a third-place finish in the World Cup in Brazil eight years ago.

Van Gaal earned a reputation as one of the greatest coaches in the game during his time at Ajax in the nineties, leading them to three league titles and winning the  Champions League in 1995. He also won league titles with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AZ Alkmaar.

His two years with United ended with victory in the 2016 FA Cup final over Crystal Palace.

United posted a message of support for Van Gaal after he announced the news on Sunday evening.

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