Louis van Gaal has stepped down as Netherlands boss following the penalty shootout defeat to Argentina in the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals – 16 months after his surprise return to the dugout.
The Dutch icon returned for a third stint in charge of the national side in August last year after Ronald Koeman, who is now expected to retake the reins himself, quit to join Barcelona.
And his side almost staged the most dramatic of victories, having come back from 2-0 down to force extra time thanks to a remarkable double from substitute Wout Weghorst.
But Emiliano Martinez saved from Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis as the South Americans edged the spot kicks showdown to book a semi-final with Croatia, who stunned Brazil via the same tiebreaker earlier on Friday.
“First and foremost I won’t be continuing. I only did it for this period of time. This was my very last match of my third term as head coach,” Van Gaal said in his post-match press conference.
“In that time I coached 20 matches and we didn’t lose a single one. I don’t know how many matches we won, but you can Google ‘Louis van Gaal, Dutch team’ and see the goal difference for yourself.
“I look back on it in a very positive way. With England we were the only team that was unbeaten [along with Croatia and Morocco]. I don’t think we have been beaten today. It was only a penalty shoot-out. What I’m leaving behind is a great group.
“Personally and football-wise this is a team that is very close and with a lot of skill. I was coach for 20 matches and we never lost over that time. That’s for a reason. We’ve played against top countries as well, although those countries were eliminated earlier in the competition.”
In April, Van Gaal revealed he had an aggressive form of prostate cancer, admitting he had hidden his diagnosis from his players in an attempt to keep focus on the World Cup.
Van Gaal revealed he had been consulted over Koeman’s all-but-confirmed appointment, previously telling De Telegraaf: “A year ago, I was the only coach available who had experience, that now applies to Koeman.
“He would be a good successor.”
The Dutch manager will forever be remembered in football and world cup history for the impact. We wish him speedy recovery and the best in future.