According to Virgil van Dijk, Louis van Gaal’s valiant battle against prostate cancer is an inspiration for Holland’s players.
Van Gaal kept his condition under wraps from his players until they had qualified for Qatar.
Louis van Gaal finished the Netherlands’ World Cup qualifying campaign in a wheelchair.
He hid his cancer diagnosis from his players, who thought he had been in a bike accident.
This is how he defied illness to make it to Qatar in search of the trophy he craves.
— The Athletic | Football (@TheAthleticFC) November 21, 2022
Only in April did he reveal he had undergone 25 sessions of radiotherapy treatment, which had been successful.
“We are all human beings and when the news came out it was a shock for us,’ said Liverpool centre-half Van Dijk after the Dutch kicked off with a 2-0 win against Senegal in Group A.
“It was tough but it was important we showed our support. He’s a very strong man, outspoken, but we wanted to be there for him.
“It’s never easy for him to deal with the whole situation but I think he’s dealing with it fantastically.
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“He’s our manager, we will fight for him regardless. He’s a great human being, very direct and we will definitely go that extra yard knowing this is the last World Cup for him.”
Holland beat Senegal 2-0 in what is likely to be van Gaal’s last World Cup run.
Van Gaal, 71, is in his third spell as Holland boss and admits this is likely to be his last World Cup.