Louis van Gaal (1997-00 / 2002-03)

Louis van Gaal was born on 8 August 1951 in Amsterdam (Holland), very close to the old De Meer stadium, the team where he would learn his apprenticeship in football

When Van Gaal retired as a player at AZ 69 he took his first steps as a coach at the same club. In 1988 after a year at AZ, he was given the opportunity to join the coaching staff at Ajax and joined then as overall coordinator of the youth teams and then later as assistant coach. In the season 1991-92 Van Gaal became manager of Ajax and put together one of the greatest squads in the history of the team. This was a group which would go on to win many trophies at home and abroad.

In his first year in charge of the team, Ajax won the UEFA Cup and the following season Dutch Cup and Super Cup. In season 93-94 he went a step further and won the Dutch league and the Dutch Super Cup.

In season 94-95 Ajax again won the League Championship and the Super Cup and as the icing on the cake for one of the best seasons in the history of the club, they won the European Cup against AC Milan. The last great victories of Ajax in the Van Gaal era came in season 95-96 when the team won the Dutch League and Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup and the European Super Cup.

After a painful final year when Ajax finished fourth in the league, Van Gaal who was being proclaimed as the successor to Cruyff, arrived at FC Barcelona as a replacement for the departing Bobby Robson. His first days in charge of Barça were not easy and he had to fight so that the players understood his own personal football vision.

Season 1997-98 was his first year as manager of Barça and van Gaal managed to win three trophies: the league, the Copa del Rey and the European Super Cup. For the first time in 39 years Barca had won the double (League and Cup). His second season also saw him win the eague which meant that after his first two seasons as manager Van Gaal had managed to take the team to the forefront of Spanish football, something that had not been achieved since Enrique Fernández and Helenio Herrera. His third year in charge was to prove the most difficult as the team finished second in the League and was beaten in the semi-final of the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. That season the club finished without any trophies.

After the president Josep Lluís Núñez had called elections for the presidency of the club in May 2000 and decided not to put himself forward as a candidate, Louis van Gaal also announced his resignation as manager and relinquished the year of his contract that he still had to run.

In season 2002-2003, after three season without winning a trophy, the president, Joan Gaspart, convinced Van Gaal to return to the club as manager two years after he had left. Here now begins the Dutchman's second spell as manager of Barça.

This second period at the club finished in January 2003, after a poor run in the league, which had seen only 6 wins, with 5 games drawn and 8 lost, as a result of which, the board reached an amicable agreement with Van Gaal to terminate his contract.

Van Gaal managed the team for 201 games during his two periods at the club.

As a player...

In his youth Van Gaal combined his studies in Physical Education with his great passion: football. As a player he played in various teams in the First and Second divisions of the Dutch league such as De Meer, Ajax, Antwerp, Sparta Rotterdam and AZ. After playing with Ajax, Louis van Gaal played in second division teams until season 86-87 when he decided to hang up his boots when he was playing for AZ and became part of the coaching staff of this club

More news here