Dutch manager Louis van Gaal was known for his tactical genius and rather eccentric nature throughout his illustrious career as a manager. He was the head coach of the Netherlands side that finished third at the 2014 World Cup and later took over at Manchester United, working with striker Robin van Persie both times.
Van Persie and Arjen Robben were seen as the two talisman players of the Netherlands team that played at the 2014 World Cup. Van Persie was the captain of the side but the former striker revealed that there was a moment during the tournament when van Gaal slapped him near the touchline during a match.
It was Netherlands’ quarter-final match against Costa Rica and the match had gone into extra time. A penalty shootout was on the cards and van Persie started cramping up just before the final whistle went off. Van Gaal informed him from the touchline that he was about to be substituted but van Persie refused to be taken off. The match eventually went to penalties with the striker still in the playing XI.
“When the match was finished and we gathered near the touchline, he got close to me and suddenly hit me. Bang! With a big flat hand he dealt me a blow and said in an angry way ‘don’t ever do that to me again’,” van Persie was quoted as saying in van Gaal’s new autobiography ‘LVG – The Manager and the Total Person.’
“I looked at him absolutely stunned. Louis said, ‘Just get on with it and make sure you get it in the net from the spot’.”
Van Persie did end up scoring from the spot but the hero of the shootout was goalkeeper Tim Krul, whom van Gaal shrewdly brought on just before the final whistle for the shootout. Krul kept out the Costa Ricans and Netherlands won the shootout 4-3.