Nigel De Jong praises Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal as having “fantastic quality” whose man management helps build a team, and suggested he is more relaxed after his cancer treatment.
Van Gaal announced that he was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer in April 2022, and revealed he had 25 sessions of radiotherapy to address an “aggressive” form of the disease.
Former Manchester City midfielder De Jong suggested that Van Gaal’s experience has changed how he is as a person after often coming across as a “general” to many outside observers.
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Speaking on ITV ahead of the country’s clash with Ecuador in their second Qatar World Cup 2022 group stage match, De Jong said that his former coach was a well-rounded person who was able to get the best out of all kinds of players.
“I had a spell in 2014 under LVG, but that shows you the human aspect,” he began. “A lot of people see he’s hard on the outside, a little arrogant, but he has such a soft inside and he really can mould a team without the superstars, by making them understand the togetherness we have on the pitch is what [is needed].
“He was hard, he was a general at times, but it’s a fantastic quality, he’s one of the most decorated coaches. You don’t have that success just being as you are, he is a man manager, understands the different types of players in his team.”
Van Gaal has often been seen as a stern figure by many in football, but during his time as Manchester United coach he demonstrated both sides of his character.
He cut an aloof figure at times with the press, but also performed exaggerated comic moments, such as throwing himself to the ground while holding a clipboard to demonstrate his belief that a rival player had dived.
De Jong believes that he is now calmer after his health scare, and that he now recognises that his third spell with the national team could be the last big job of his career.
He added: “He overcame prostate cancer. He is also now a little bit laid back and mellow as he understands this might be his last big job.”
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