Former players and employers of Louis Van Gaal have rallied round the Holland national team manager, who has revealed he is battling prostate cancer.
Holland skipper Virgil Van Dijk said he hopes his country can make it “a World Cup to never forget” for Van Gaal, who revealed his diagnosis during a Dutch television documentary on Sunday.
Van Dijk said: “I was…in shock last night when I heard his interview. He’s getting his film out next week, so I was just wondering how he would promote it a little bit and speak about his life and then obviously, that was a big shock.
“I messaged him after the interview. It definitely says a lot about him. I said to him as well, he’s probably not that type of guy that needs a lot of sympathy, that’s how he is.
“But I told him as well that we are definitely going to be there for him as a group whenever he needs it and hopefully we can also make it for him a World Cup to never forget.”
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker tweeted: “Sending best wishes and hopes for a full recovery to Louis Van Gaal, who announced on Dutch television tonight that he’s battling prostate cancer.”
Barcelona also paid tribute to Van Gaal – who managed the club between 1997 and 2000 and again from 2002 to 2003.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to former Barca manager Louis Van Gaal, who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer,” the club said on Twitter. “Stay strong, Louis, and get well soon.”
Van Gaal managed Manchester United from 2014 to 2016, overseeing them winning the FA Cup in the final game of his tenure.
He gave Marcus Rashford his United debut and the England forward said on Monday: “Earned my debut from LVG. Will forever be indebted. You can fight this. We are all behind you.”
Another of Van Gaal’s players at United, Jesse Lingard, tweeted: “Emotional to hear the news. Wishing you a speedy and full recovery in your battle gaffer.
“Stay strong, we all know you’ll fight this with all your heart and courage!”
Ashley Young added: “Wishing you a speedy recovery. Stay strong Coach.”
The former United boss revealed he had hidden the news from his players prior to the documentary programme.
“They don’t know,” he told the programme. “They see a blush on my cheeks and think, ‘what a healthy (person) that is’. That is of course, not the case.”
He added: “I’ve been through a lot with illnesses, including with my own wife. So that’s just part of life.
“(I) as a human being have probably become richer because of all those experiences. I thought that should also be in the film.”
United posted a message of support on their Twitter feed that read: “Everybody at Manchester United is fully behind our former manager, Louis Van Gaal, in his battle against cancer. Sending you strength and courage, Louis.”
Van Gaal had previously won league titles with Ajax, who he also guided to Champions League glory in 1995, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich.
His third stint with Holland, which started in August last year, has included qualification for the World Cup in Qatar that gets under way in November.