Thu 24 June 2021 | 16:30

Louis Van Gaal Biography

He’s one of the greatest names in the world of football managers, who had the chance to manage some of the biggest clubs in the world. In this article, we take a look at Louis Van Gaal biography.

Aloysius Paulus Maria Van Gaal, better known as Louis van Gaal, born 8 August 1951 in Amsterdam, is a Dutch former football player who plays as a midfielder, after retiring from active football, he became a coach and managed to establish himself amongst the greatest football managers ever.

As a player, he played for Sparta Rotterdam and AZ Alkmaar, among others, although he never made it above the league level. As a coach, he started at Ajax Amsterdam, where he worked in various positions for a total of eleven years. During the first half of the 1990s, he was behind Amsterdam's national and international revival, helping them to three league titles and winning a European trophy for the first time since 1987, the UEFA Cup, which was soon followed by the Champions League.

Initially, Van Gaal's good run continued at FC Barcelona, but a lack of success in international competitions led to his resignation in 2000. From then on there was a decline in Van Gaal's coaching form, the most notable example of which was his unsuccessful stint with the Dutch national team, with whom he missed out on qualification for the 2002 World Cup.

Following his fruitless second stint with Barcelona, he stepped back from coaching for a few years. Only in 2005 he returned to it and became the coach of AZ Alkmaar, with which he began to rebuild his status from the 1990s. The crowning achievement of his work in AZ was the 2008-2009 season when he led the club to its first national championship in 28 years.

Following this, he took over as coach of Bayern Munich, where he recorded achievements comparable to those at Ajax: he won the league title and the domestic cup in one season and played in the final of the Champions League.

All You Need to Know About Louis Van Gaal Biography

He was sacked as Bayern Munich coach on 10 April 2011 after disappointing results. He was appointed manager of the Dutch national team for the second time on 6 July 2012. He took the Dutch national team to the 2014 World Cup and led the Netherlands to a 3rd place finish at the World Cup, winning the bronze medal. Following the World Cup, he became the coach of Manchester United and thus resigned from coaching the Netherlands. He was dismissed as coach of Manchester United on 23 May 2016 due to his poor performance.

Louis Van Gaal Information

Now that you know the Dutch legendary manager better, in this section of

Louis Van Gaal biography

, we will share the same general information about him such as

Louis Van Gaal nationality

to let you know him even more. Stay tuned.

Louis Van Gaal Bio

  • Full Name: Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal

  • Nickname: Iron Tulip

  • Profession: Professional Footballer

Louis Van Gaal Physical Stats

  • Weight: 80 Kg

  • Height: 1.85 m

  • Eye Color: Blue

  • Hair Color: Brown

Louis Van Gaal Football Information

  • Position: Midfielder

  • Jersey Number: 7

  • Professional Debut: 1972

Louis Van Gaal Date of Birth and Personal Info

  • Date of Birth: 8 August 1951

  • Birth Place: Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Zodiac Sign: Leo

  • Nationality: Dutch

Stay tuned to this section of

Louis Van Gaal biography

as we will share some information about

Louis Van Gaal childhood

and more.

Louis Van Gaal Early Life

As a youngster, Van Gaal began playing football with the Amsterdam RKSV De Meer, before joining the Ajax second team at the age of 20. In the period 1972 to 1987, Van Gaal was playing as a midfielder in professional football.

His first-team appearance in 1972 was with the Ajax senior team, although he never actually played a league match. At the age of twenty-two, he subsequently tried his luck overseas at Antwerp FC. From 1973 to 1977, Van Gaal scored seven goals in forty-one matches in four seasons with the Belgian club. Following this Belgian period, he left for Telstar, where he stayed for one season.

After his stint at Telstar, he joined Rotterdam side Sparta, where he ended up playing the majority of his league matches, which was 248 in total. From 1979 to 1986, he was playing there together with Danny Blind, the future captain of Ajax under Van Gaal. For a short time from 1986 to 1987, Van Gaal played for AZ, also acting as an assistant coach. He retired from playing in 1987.

Louis Van Gaal Profile

After having the experience of being a coach at AZ Alkmaar, Van Gaal soon entered the world of coaching after retiring from an active playing career. Stay tuned to this section of Louis Van Gaal biography as we will share some information about his career as a manager in Ajax.


Initially, he was an assistant coach at AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands. Following his spell at AZ, he became assistant coach to Leo Beenhakker at


Amsterdam. Following Beenhakker's departure to Real Madrid, van Gaal took over as Ajax's head coach in September 1991. The team won the UEFA Cup in his first season. As time went on, van Gaal's team played exciting football and took dominance in the Netherlands by winning three successive Eredivisies (1994, 95, and 96) and the Dutch Cup in 1993.

His team played a complete football distinguished by tactical discipline and physical power, stunning half of Europe and winning the Champions League in 1995, beating

AC Milan

in the final in Vienna. It was the end of a historic season for Ajax, as they swept through the Champions League with a style of play that was close to perfection.

Furthermore, van Gaal's Ajax succeeded in reviving the 3-4-3 formation at a time when the Italian style prevailed in Europe. The talented young generation of brilliant players such as Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, and Marc Overmars, and the experience of other established players like Jari Litmanen and Frank Rijkaard, not excluding the great goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, enabled Van Gaal to make the most of his talents.

Playing in the 1995-96 season, the Dutch team won the Intercontinental Cup, the European Super Cup, and once again reached the final of the Champions League, but this time they lost on penalties to Juventus. In 1997, he left the Ajax bench.

FC Barcelona


noticed him after his success in Amsterdam and signed him for the 1997-98 season. He brought in some of his Dutch players who had also played under him at Ajax, namely Michael Reiziger and Winston Bogarde, and Ruud Hesp from Roda.

The first season saw them win the league and cup double, in addition to a European Super Cup, in which Rivaldo was the star player, together with other great footballers such as Figo, Luis Enrique, and Guardiola. They went on to win the league title the following year. In the second season, they signed up to five more Dutch players, including Kluivert, Cocu, and Zenden, as well as the brothers Frank and Ronald de Boer. In the third year, there was hope until the final stages of the season.

The team lost the Spanish Super Cup and was knocked out in the semi-finals of the UEFA

Champions League

by Valencia CF; the team fought until the end for the league title, coming second behind Deportivo; and the team was eliminated in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey because they had nine outfield players plus two goalkeepers for the first leg due to international commitments. Consequently, in the 1999-2000 season, the team was unable to win any title except for the Catalonian Cup.

Both the press and the fans were no longer convinced of the Dutch coach's project, and he finally resigned at the end of the season, bringing about the end of José Luis Núñez's presidency. In his first spell, youth players such as Xavi Hernández, Carles Puyol, and Gabri all made their debuts and established themselves in the team. During his time at Barca, Jose Mourinho was one of his assistants.

Netherlands National Team

His parting with Barcelona was made all the less painful by the fact that Van Gaal had a job as national team manager waiting for him. Van Gaal had been thinking of taking over the Dutch national team since 1998, although an important contract with Barcelona prevented him from doing so. For a coach such as Van Gaal, a strong national team would seem to be proof of his ability and a win-win situation.

Especially since the generation of players he had introduced and promoted at Ajax were in their prime. But the Dutch team was underperforming in the 2002

World Cup

qualifiers, and there were frequent disputes between players, as well as the coach's constant use of tried and tested tactics and experiments with personnel frustrated many fans and the media.

They finished third in their group, behind


and Ireland, and were unable to qualify for an international tournament for the first time since 1986. Despite being under contract with the national federation until 2006, Van Gaal was forced to resign.

Return to Barcelona

Van Gaal was back at FC Barcelona as coach in 2002. Having decided to get rid of three pillars of the team up to that time: Rivaldo, Abelardo, and Sergi, Van Gaal tried to introduce a very offensive system of play with three defenders.

Upon his return to the Blaugrana, he was unable to sign the players he wanted, as he did during his first spell at Barcelona, instead, he signed German goalkeeper Robert Enke, Argentinian playmaker Juan Román Riquelme and Spanish midfielder Gaizka Mendieta with the latter being the best performer for the Catalans, while Argentinian full-back Juan Pablo Sorín joined the team in the winter transfer window.

However, despite the limited signings, or because of it, he handed first-team debuts to youth players such as Víctor Valdés, Oleguer Presas, Andrés Iniesta, Fernando Navarro, and Sergio García, with many of them going on to become top-level players.

Under his second spell, the team was very inconsistent in the La Liga, quite the opposite of the Champions League, in which they were one of the main candidates for the title because of their play and results (they had won all their group matches). Performances in the Spanish league were not good and the Dutch coach was fired on 28 January 2003, in the middle of the season, following a 2-0 defeat against

Celta Vigo

and with the team in 13th place, and was replaced by the Serbian Radomir Antić.

Technical directorship of Ajax

Van Gaal returned to Ajax in November 2003, becoming a technical director as successor to Leo Beenhakker. He was instructed to work on a technical policy plan that would cover the entire organization from youth to the first team.

In his capacity as technical director, Van Gaal became primarily responsible for head coach Ronald Koeman, who he already knew from their time together at FC Barcelona. Koeman, however, felt that he was given too little room by Van Gaal to do his job and regularly complained to general manager Arie van Eijden, who was Van Gaal's immediate superior. For his part, Van Gaal complained about Koeman's lack of experience and decisiveness.

The bad working relationship between Van Gaal and Koeman was made worse by the sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic for sixteen million euros to


at the start of the 2004/05 season. This sale was imperative, according to Van Gaal, since Zlatan was at odds with the up-and-coming Rafael van der Vaart.

However, Koeman was upset to see his dream striker leave and that the medical staff advised against his replacement Arouna Koné, which left him with Wesley Sonck and Yannis Anastasiou for the forward spot. While Koeman openly expressed his displeasure with this state of affairs, he ultimately forced the Ajax board to choose between Van Gaal and himself.

Assessment talks between the board and Van Gaal were conducted in September 2004 around his performance, as well as the relationship between Koeman and Van Gaal and the powers of the technical director. Koeman was also part of these talks. The board approved Van Gaal's technical policy plan for the most part, which was unanimously adopted.

But Van Gaal suggested shifting some of the responsibilities of the head coach, notably with regard to the purchase and sale of players, to the technical director's position, which he held at the time. This turned out to be a major stumbling block and on 16 October 2004 Van Gaal handed in his resignation, which was granted on 19 October after extensive internal deliberation. Koeman also left Ajax half a season later.

Stay tuned to this section of

Louis Van Gaal biography

as we will share some information about his managing career at AZ.

AZ Alkmaar

From the 2005/06 season, he became coach of AZ. He replaced Co Adriaanse there. The team finished second in the league in his first season as AZ coach and made it to the semi-finals of the cup. During the semi-final of the Eredivisie play-offs AZ was defeated in a two-leg tie with FC Groningen (1-3 away and 2-1 at home) and missed out on qualification for the preliminary round of the UEFA Champions League, despite finishing second.

His second season as head coach saw AZ have an even better season. They took over first place from PSV on the second to last matchday but missed out on the championship by losing to Excelsior on the final day and ended up in third place. In addition, AZ lost the cup final and the play-offs against Ajax.

Because of this AZ won nothing and only qualified for the UEFA Cup. During the 2006/07 season, AZ failed to reach the quarter-finals against Werder Bremen. In the two previous rounds, AZ had managed to come back well against Fenerbahçe and Newcastle United. For the 2006/07 season, Van Gaal was elected Dutch coach of the year, chosen by players and coaches.

In the 2007/08 season, AZ had a very difficult time. His position came under pressure, as AZ faced relegation at one point. It was announced on 28 March 2008 that Van Gaal would leave at the end of the 2007/08 season. Several days later, Van Gaal corrected this by stating that the group of players could still prove themselves and he would decide at the end of the season. He chose to stay on. In the next season, Van Gaal won the Dutch league title with AZ.

After bringing home the Eredivise and making it to the UEFA Champions League, interest arose from national teams and clubs from home and abroad. FC Bayern Munich showed concrete interest. Meanwhile, Van Gaal announced that he is open to a transfer to the Bavarian club.

While Van Gaal previously claimed that he always finishes his contracts, he felt that AZ - despite an ongoing contract - would be able to provide him with a nice transfer. Although AZ did not want to lose the coach, they agreed on a departure. The club did not ask for a transfer fee, but they did agree on a charity match between AZ and Bayern Munich. Van Gaal signed a two-year contract with the German club on 13 May.

Bayern Munich

Starting the 2009/10 season, Van Gaal was appointed head coach of FC

Bayern Munich

. He signed a three-year contract in Munich. With Bayern Munich, Van Gaal won an away match in Turin with 1-4 against Juventus on 8 December 2009. This victory enabled the team to qualify for the second round of the UEFA Champions League.

The team defeated AC


, after which Bayern beat

Manchester United

in two matches in the quarterfinals. In doing so, Van Gaal became the second coach after Jose Mourinho to reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League with three different clubs.

He made it to the final of the Champions League on 27 April 2010 with Bayern Munich by beating Olympique Lyonnais 4-0 in two matches. They lost the final against Inter Milan on 22 May 2010, 0-2. With Bayern, Van Gaal won the DFB-Pokal on 15 May 2010 with a 0-4 win against Werder Bremen and became champion of the German Bundesliga on the final day of the competition.

The second season was his last in the German club. Following a series of disappointing results, the announcement was made on 7 March 2011 that Van Gaal would leave Bayern Munich after the end of the season. He was replaced by Jupp Heynckes. He was fired on 10 April 2011 after a draw against FC Nürnberg (1-1).

Back with the Dutch national team

The Royal Dutch Football Association brought him back on 6 July 2012, ten years after he left the


national team, to replace Bert van Marwijk, following a dismal failure at Euro 2012, with three defeats in three games.

The Netherlands national team finished first in their World Cup qualifying group and went on to have an excellent World Cup, finishing in third place. One of Van Gaal's highlights was bringing on Tim Krul, the third goalkeeper, in place of Jasper Cillessen in the quarter-final match against Costa Rica for the penalty shoot-out. He made two saves to send the Netherlands through to the semi-finals against Argentina, where they lost on penalties.

It was announced that after the World Cup, Louis van Gaal will move to Manchester United. Van Gaal was honored as Dutch coach of the year during the 2014 Dutch NOCNSF sports gala.

Manchester United

It was confirmed on 19 May 2014 that he would take charge of Manchester United in the 2014-15 Premier League. The English team completed a fantastic pre-season under his leadership, defeating prestigious rivals such as

Real Madrid

and Roma, but made a poor start to the season, picking up just one point from a possible nine.

The club spent heavily on signings (Ángel Di María, Radamel Falcao, and Ander Herrera, among others) in order to build a competitive side again, having failed to qualify for any European competition the previous year. Nevertheless, the team only collected 13 points in the first 10 Premier League matches, which was their worst start in 28 years. Thereafter, the Red Devils put together a string of victories that took them to the top of the table.

Van Gaal announced on 19 March 2015 that his tenure at Manchester United would be the last of his career and he would retire at the end of his time in charge of the English club. Ultimately, the club finished the Premier League in 4th place, thereby securing a place in the Champions League.

The second season of Van Gaal at the helm of Manchester United started with good results, advancing from the preliminary round of the Champions League to reach the group stage and finishing among the top teams in the early rounds of the Premier League, demonstrating their title ambitions. Nevertheless, they were knocked out of the Capital One Cup in the first round and the Champions League on the group stage.

Complicating matters, the English team went seven games without a win and dropped out of the European places at the end of the first half of the Premier League. United finished the season as 5th in the 2015-16 Premier League, equal on points with 4th, yet missing out on the final Champions League place on goal difference, as well as winning the FA Cup with a 2-1 extra-time victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium. He was sacked as manager of Manchester United two days later, on 23 May.

Retirement as a coach

His son-in-law and younger sister died on 18 January 2017, prompting him to turn down an offer from the Chinese Super League and informing the media that he would be retiring from coaching as a result. "So much has happened in my family that I have had a lot of weight to decide to retire from football," he said.

Stay tuned to this section of Louis Van Gaal biography as we will share some information about his coaching style.

Style of Play

During an interview with FIFA's official website in January 2008, he spoke about the so-called "van Gaal module", which distinguishes the tactics of the teams he leads. But unlike a classic system, which is not always adaptable because it depends on the players at his disposal, his system can be viewed more as a "philosophy"; therefore, the coach has to be flexible in his choices, in fact, van Gaal himself has used different systems over the years: 3-3-1-3 with Ajax, 2-3-2-3 with Barcelona, 4-4-2 with

AZ Alkmaar

and 4-2-3-1 with Bayern Munich.

He believes that the mental set-up of the team is fundamental, claiming that it depends on the relationship between the players and the coach; who must act as a 'focal point' for the players, maintaining, like his players, an 'open mind' in order to obtain a collective result through collective work. In addition, his football concept is based on tactical preparation: each footballer must know what position to take on the pitch, how to help his teammates, and how to beat the opponent. All this requires discipline.


In the world of football, Louis Van Gaal is considered by many football fans and critics to be one of the greatest football managers of his generation and amongst the best Dutch football coaches.

Louis Van Gaal outside Football

Van Gaal gave Michael van Praag the first copy of Louis van Gaal - de Biografie, a two-part book covering his career up to that moment, on 8 October 2009 in front of around a thousand interested people in the Amsterdam Arena. In the first part, he talks about his relationship with Ronald Koeman and Johan Cruyff, his deceased first wife Fernanda, his second wife, and his love for the clubs he worked for. The second part is about his ideas on football and the profession of a coach.

Louis Van Gaal Personal Life

In this section of Louis Van Gaal biography, we will take a look into his personal life, sharing some information about things like

Louis Van Gaal religion


Louis Van Gaal life story


Family, Children, and Relationships

Louis van Gaal did grow up in Watergraafsmeer, Amsterdam-Oost, in a Catholic household. Louis' father died once he was 11 years old due to severe heart disease. His mom, who already had nine children, raised the majority of the family alone. The family was well-known for their sense of responsibility and order.

He went to secondary school at the Sint-Nicolaaslyceum in Amsterdam, which was operated by the Fathers of the Sacred Heart. He subsequently went to the local Academy for Physical Education to specialize as a gymnastics teacher.

Van Gaal married his first wife Fernanda in 1973, who died of pancreatic cancer on 17 January 1994. He was left with his two daughters. He went to church every week until 1994. However, he turned away from the Catholic faith that year because he felt that God "did not respect" human dignity in the suffering and death of his wife and the wars in the world. He no longer wanted to have anything to do with God who allows suffering.

Van Gaal got married again on 8 August 2008 to Truus Opmeer in Albufeira, Portugal. His autobiography was published in 2009.


Van Gaal has always been active in charity projects. On one occasion, he and the Manchester United board donated 1.2 million pounds to charity. Because Van Gaal, unlike several other coaches, did not have an agent, he opted to give the normal agent's fee to a charity, with the club doubling the money to make an even larger donation.

With a deal worth around £12 million per year, his agent would've been eligible for a fee of around £600,000, but because he signed the contract himself, that money was given away, with Manchester United also contributing the same amount.

Legal Issues

It was announced on 16 November 2011 that Van Gaal had signed a contract at Ajax, on this occasion as general manager. He was to start working for the Amsterdam club again in July 2012. The appointment of Van Gaal was very controversial, as four members of the Supervisory Board made the decision behind the back of the fifth commissioner, Johan Cruyff. At the same commissioner's meeting, Martin Sturkenboom and Danny Blind were respectively named interim and technical director. Van Gaal's appointment, who had been in conflict with Cruijff for years, led to tensions within the Ajax organization.

Along with several coaches from the youth academy, Cruijff filed a lawsuit against the other members of the Supervisory Board regarding the appointment of Van Gaal, Sturkenboom, and Blind. During the first hearing in December 2011, these appointments were declared legally valid, but they were also suspended so that the shareholders could express their opinions on them.

During the shareholders' meeting, all members of the Supervisory Board were removed from their positions due to the distrust that had arisen. The court ruled in favor of Cruijff and the youth coaches on 7 February 2012. Subsequently, the contracts of Van Gaal and Sturkenboom were declared invalid by the court, and Blind himself stepped down.

Louis Van Gaal Career Statistics

In this section of Louis Van Gaal biography, we will take a look into the player’s career on the international and club level. Stay tuned.


During his career as a club player, Van Gaal has played a total of 360 matches for many clubs in the Netherlands and Belgium, scoring 38 goals. He also never made it to play for his country.


As an experienced football manager, he is no stranger to coaching teams as he has done so in a total of 905 matches. In all of these games, Louis Van Gaal’s teams have won 546 matches, drawn 183, and lost on 176 occasions, thus reaching a 60.33 win ratio.

Louis Van Gaal Honors

Louis Van Gaal has won all of his awards and titles as a manager, with the most notable of them being the Eredivisie, UEFA Champions League, La Liga,


, and the FA Cup, among others. He was also third-placed at the 2014 World Cup with the Netherlands.

He has also some personal awards and titles including World Soccer Manager of the Year, European Coach of the Year—Sepp Herberger Award, Football Manager of the Year (Germany), and many others.

Read More:

source: SportMob

DISCLAIMER! Sportmob does not claim ownership of any of the pictures posted on this website. Again, we do not host pictures or videos ourselves. Our authors merely link to the rightful owner. Lastly, Sportmob have carefully considered and reviewed all of its content. Despite that, it is possible that some information might be out-dated or incomplete.