Liverpool defender, Virgil van Dijk has revealed that he was shocked when he learned that his national team coach, Louis van Gaal has been battling prostate cancer.
The 70-year-old Dutch head coach became one of the most talked-about football personalities on Sunday night, April 3, 2022, after the news broke that he is being treated for prostate cancer.
In an interview he had with Dutch television, the veteran Dutch coach who has coached the Netherlands national team three different times, noted that his players are not aware that he is battling such a life-threatening illness.
Recall that Louis van Gaal coached the Netherlands ahead of the 2002 FIFA World Cup but failed to qualify the country for the tournament. He was asked to leave the national team in 2001.
Despite failing to qualify the country for the 2002 edition of the World Cup, the Dutch football association decided to appoint him to lead the country to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He helped the country to finish third in the tournament.
Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Dutch FA appointed Van Gaal again to qualify the country for the World Cup in Qatar and also lead the country to the tournament.
He has qualified the country for the tournament and the fact that he is currently battling prostate cancer would not stop him from leading the country to Qatar.
Ahead of Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final first-leg game against Benfica later tonight, April 5, 2022, at 20:00, Virgil van Dijk who is a captain of the Dutch national team said he was not aware that Van Gaal was being treated for cancer.
Van Dijk who has been playing for the Dutch national team since October 10, 2015, said the fact that the coach did not tell his players that he was sick showed that the coach does not want to be pitied.
The Netherlands national team captain said after he heard the interview in which Van Gaal revealed his health status, he called the coach to wish him well.
Van Dijk declared that he and his Dutch teammates would support the veteran coach and would make the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar a tournament to remember for Van Gaal.
“I was also in shock last night,” Van Dijk said on Monday.
“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 sympathies, that’s how he is.”
The 30-year-old Dutch center-back added: “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.”
🗣️ "The things that have been going on at the moment at Liverpool, is something that no-one should take for granted."— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) April 4, 2022
Virgil van Dijk is hoping this can be an unforgettable season for Liverpool. pic.twitter.com/AhJZanaIK9
The stats of Virgil van Dijk for both Netherlands and Liverpool
Virgil van Dijk has been playing for Liverpool since January 1, 2018, after the Premier League club paid Southampton €84.65 million for his services.
The 30-year-old Dutch defender is currently earning £220,000 per week at the Premier League club and his contract with the club will expire on June 30, 2025.
Since he joined Liverpool, Van Dijk has played 169 games in all competitions in which he scored 16 goals and provided 7 assists.
So far this season, the Netherlands international has scored three goals and provided 1 assist in 39 games in all competitions.
As for his national team, Van Dijk who made his international debut on October 10, 2015, has played 46 games in all competitions in which he scored five goals.
It might interest you to note that Virgil van Dijk has been married to Rike Nooitgedagt since 2017. The marriage blessed me with two daughters, Nila and Jadi.