THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Netherlands national soccer team coach Louis van Gaal has revealed that he is being treated for an aggressive form of prostate cancer but still plans to lead the team at the World Cup in Qatar in November.
Van Gaal told Sunday night Dutch talk show “Humberto” that players in the team did not know about his diagnosis even though he was receiving night-time treatment during four training camps.
“You don’t tell something like this to people you work with because it could influence their choices, their energy or whatever, and I thought, ‘they shouldn’t know,’” he said.
He said he has undergone 25 radiation therapy treatments.
“I have been to the hospital in the evening or night in every period, without the players knowing,” the 70-year-old coach said.
Van Gaal lost his first wife to cancer.
“It’s part of life. I have experienced so much with disease and death, in my own family, my wife,” he said. “I have probably been enriched as a person by all those experiences I have had with it.”
Van Gaal is in his third stint as Netherlands coach. He led the team to the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He also has coached clubs including Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Ajax, leading the Amsterdam club to the Champions League title in 1995.
He did not attend last week’s World Cup draw in Qatar after testing positive for COVID-19. The Netherlands was drawn to play host Qatar, Senegal and Ecuador. Ahead of the draw, Van Gaal said it was ridiculous the tournament was being played in Qatar.
Manchester United posted support for Van Gaal on Twitter.
“Everybody at Manchester United is fully behind our former manager, Louis van Gaal, in his battle against cancer. Sending you strength and courage, Louis,” the club wrote.
UEFA also sent best wishes via Twitter, and the official Dutch supporters site “Ons Oranje” tweeted an orange heart above a photo of Van Gaal.