Who is Louis Van Gaal, the Dutch head coach heading into this World Cup?

Who is Louis Van Gaal, the Dutch head coach heading into this World Cup?

Kevin Omuya
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:16 PM

Louis Van Gaal has managed some of the best teams in the world, earning him a place among the sport's all-time greats. In addition to being one of the most successful managers of the contemporary era, he is also a major figure in the sport, heading into the World Cup 2022.

Louis Van Gaal
Coach Louis van Gaal of the Netherlands during a Press Conference of the Netherlands Men's Football Team on November 11, 2022, in Zeist, Netherlands. Photo: Broer van den Boom
Source: Getty Images

He was born to Aloysius Paulus Maria Van Gaal on 8 August 1951, in Amsterdam. He is a retired Dutch football player who played as a midfielder. After retiring from active football, van Gaal became a coach and established himself as one of the best football managers.



Full name

Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal



Date of birth

8 August 1951


71 years (as of November 2022)



Place of birth

Amsterdam, Netherlands







Marital status



Truus van Gaal


Brenda and Renate


Head Coach


Eredivisie champions three times, in 1994, 1995 and 1996


Netherlands men's football club

Social media

Instagram, Twitter

Net worth

$16 million

Louis Van Gaal's age

He is 71 years as of November 2022. When he was young, he joined the Amsterdam amateur team, RKSV de Meer. His playing career included stints with Sparta Rotterdam and AZ Alkmaar, but he was never able to advance to the professional ranks.

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Did Louis Van Gaal play football?

Did Louis Van Gaal play football?
Louis van Gaal during a Sparta Rotterdam's match in the 1985/1986 season in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Photo: VI Images
Source: Getty Images

Before becoming a coach, he was a former midfielder for Royal Antwerp, Telstar, Sparta Rotterdam, Ajax, and AZ, while playing semi-professionally for clubs. He also worked as a physical education instructor at high schools.

Louis Van Gaal's family

His family in Watergraafsmeer, Amsterdam-Oost, was staunchly Catholic. Louis' dad passed away from heart failure when he was only 11 years old. His mother already had nine children by the time he was born, and she brought up her ten children without any help. The family had a superb reputation for being responsible and well-organized.

Louis Van Gaal's wife

In 1973, he wed Fernanda, who he would later lose to pancreatic cancer on January 17, 1994. He remarried Truus Opmeer on August 8th, 2008, in Albufeira, Portugal.

Louis Van Gaal's coaching career

Louis Van Gaal's coaching career
Manager Louis van Gaal Manager (C) of Manchester United, during the Barclays Premier League match against AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 17, 2016, in Manchester, England. Photo: James Baylis
Source: Getty Images

His coaching career began with AZ, where he assisted for a season before joining Ajax as Leo Beenhakker's assistant and finally taking over in 1991. Three Eredivisie titles, the UEFA Cup, and the UEFA Champions League were all won by the team while he was the manager. While playing with Barcelona, he won two league titles and one Copa del Rey after moving there in 1997.

For the first eleven years of his coaching career, he was at Ajax Amsterdam. During the first half of the 1990s, he was the driving force behind Amsterdam's national and international renaissance, leading the club to three league titles and their first European trophy since 1987 (the UEFA Cup).

Van Gaal's success at FC Barcelona lasted a while but he eventually resigned in 2000 due to a lack of victories on the international stage. After that, Van Gaal's coaching career went downhill, with the most glaring example being his failed time with the Dutch national team, during which they failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. From 2014 until his dismissal in 2016, he managed Manchester United.

Louis Van Gaal's return

Louis Van Gaal's return
Memphis Depay (right) and Louis van Gaal (Center) during a training session of the Dutch national team at the KNVB Campus on November 14, 2022, in Zeist, Netherlands. Photo: Olaf Kraak
Source: Getty Images

He took some time off from coaching after his second spell with Barcelona was unsuccessful. He did not get back into the game until 2005 when he was hired as coach of AZ Alkmaar and began to restore his 1990s reputation. The 2008–2009 season, in which he was in charge of Arizona, is widely regarded as his finest hour as a coach because it was during that year that the team won its first national championship in 28 years.

After that, he became the coach of Bayern Munich, where he repeated his success from his time at Ajax by winning the league and domestic cup in the same campaign. The Champions League final was his playing field.

Louis Van Gaal's stats

He has played 360 games for various clubs in the Netherlands and Belgium, during which time he has scored 38 goals. Unfortunately, he was never selected to represent his country in an international competition.

He is a seasoned football manager who has coached clubs in 905 games. Louis Van Gaal's teams had a victory rate of 60.33%, and after playing 1,080 total matches, he has achieved 546 wins, 183 draws, and 176 losses.

Louis Van Gaal's honors

Louis Van Gaal's honors
Head coach Louis van Gaal of Bayern Muenchen celebrates the German championship title on the town hall's balcony on May 9, 2010, in Munich, Germany. Photo: Alexandra Beier
Source: Getty Images

As a manager, he has won every major prize and championship, including the Eredivisie, UEFA Champions League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and the FA Cup. He finished in the third position with the Netherlands at the World Cup in 2014.

In addition to being named the World Soccer Manager of the Year, European Coach of the Year (Sepp Herberger Award), and Football Manager of the Year (Germany), he has won numerous additional accolades and titles.

Van Gaal's selection as Ajax manager was met with widespread backlash because four members of the Supervisory Board made decisions without consulting the fifth commissioner, Johan Cruyff. Tensions surfaced inside the Ajax organization after the arrival of Van Gaal, who had been at odds with Cruyff for years.

Cruyff sued the other members of the Supervisory Board over their vote to hire Van Gaal, Sturkenboom, and Blind. These nominations were deemed lawful at the initial hearing in December 2011, but they were put on hold so that shareholders may voice their concerns.

Because of the widespread mistrust, the entire Supervisory Board was voted out at the shareholders' meeting. A judge sided with Cruyff and the youth coaches on February 7, 2012, issuing a ruling in their favour. As a result, the court nullified Van Gaal and Sturkenboom's contracts, and Blind resigned.

Louis Van Gaal's health

Louis Van Gaal's health
Louis van Gaal of Netherlands in a wheelchair before the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match against Norway at De Kuip on November 16, 2021, in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Photo: NES Images
Source: Getty Images

The 71-year-old Dutch manager has been a pioneer in European sports management for the past three decades, thus, the news of his prostate cancer diagnosis was met with universal sympathy.

"In each period during my time as manager of the national team I had to leave in the night to go to the hospital without the players finding it out until now,” he said. “While thinking I was healthy. But.. I am not.”

According to Van Gaal, he has "irradiated 25 times" and has a "very aggressive version" of the disease. He had previously kept quiet about his health issues but has decided to be frank with the players he will coach at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.

World Cup boycott

Van Gaal has stated that Dutch fans who are boycotting the World Cup because of Qatar's human rights abuses and claims are correct to do so. Since just 14% of the Dutch population plans to watch the tournament on television, he suggested that only "experienced" footballing nations host the event.

Dutch national team coach Louis van Gaal will step down after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. On Monday, 21 December 2022, the Dutch face Senegal in their opening Group A match, and he believes his team has a shot at winning the World Cup.

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The World Cup is a competition that brings people from all walks of life together in support of their national team. Click on the link above to find out about the dates, schedules, and fixtures for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

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Kevin Omuya
Kevin Omuya is a Content Writer with 4 years of experience who joined Sports Brief in 2022. In 2019 he held a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Digital Media from KCA University.