Louis van Gaal, the Netherlands coach and former Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Ajax manager, has revealed he has been receiving treatment for an “aggressive” form of prostate cancer.
Van Gaal, 70, speaking to the RTL TV show Humberto on Sunday, revealed he has been receiving treatment while continuing to train the Dutch team but had not informed his players of his condition. He said he plans to carry on in his role in leading the Dutch team in the World Cup this year.
“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,” he said. “You don’t die from prostate cancer, at least not in 90% of the cases.
“It is usually other underlying diseases that kill you. But I had a pretty aggressive form, got irradiated 25 times. Then you have a lot of management to do in order to get through life.”
Van Gaal is in his third stint in charge of the national team, having led the team to a third-placed finish at the World Cup in 2014 before joining Manchester United. The Dutch were drawn in Group A for this year’s World Cup alongside the tournament hosts, Qatar, Ecuador and Senegal, who they will play in the tournament’s first match in Doha on 21 November.
“I did have preferential treatment in the hospital,” Van Gaal said. “I was allowed in through the back door when I went to an appointment and was immediately pushed into another room. I have been treated wonderfully.
“You will of course tell your friends and relatives about it,” he said, when asked about keeping his illness secret. “The fact that nothing has come out yet also says something about my environment. That’s great.”
Marcus Rashford was one of many in the world of football to send Van Gaal his best wishes on Twitter. “Earned my debut from LVG. Will forever be indebted,” Rashford wrote. “You can fight this. We are all behind you.”
Manchester United’s official account later tweeted: “Everybody at Manchester United is fully behind our former manager, Louis van Gaal, in his battle against cancer. Sending you strength and courage, Louis.” Gary Lineker wrote: “Sending best wishes and hopes for a full recovery.”
His coaching career spanning almost four decades, Van Gaal has won league titles with Barcelona, Ajax, Bayern Munich and AZ Alkmaar, winning the Champions League with Ajax in 1995. He spent two seasons at United, leading the club to the FA Cup in 2016 before being sacked days later.