The Louis Van Gaal Biography: Fans mocked Louis van Gaal’s cancer-stricken wife as she battled for life

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Manchester United’s players have been getting to know new boss Louis van Gaal and will be getting familiar with his personality and some of his managerial traits.

Here, Sportsmail has exclusive extracts from Maarten Meijer’s explosive new book on the Dutchman which lifts the lid on the new man in charge at Old Trafford.

There are some things even Louis van Gaal cannot control. A life that has always had hard work, discipline and order as its core values was sent into a whirlwind when his first wife lost her fight with cancer.

He had met Fernanda Obbes when he was only 18 and she was two years younger. Friends said it was love at first sight as they locked eyes at the Catholic youth society near his home.

They were married when Louis was still only 21 and blissfully happy until, in 1994 at the height of his success in his first spell as manager of Ajax, she was taken ill.

Doctors diagnosed liver and pancreatic cancer. In his position in charge of Holland’s biggest football club he had access to all the best doctors and surgeons, but nothing could be done.

Instead, Van Gaal found himself confronted by challenges beyond his control. While he did his best to tend his wife in  private, in public he had to show iron discipline as Dutch fans mocked their ordeal.

In Holland, there are two words for woman. ‘Vrouw’ shows respect for a loving partner. ‘Wijf’ is insulting – translated as something like ‘bitch’.

At one Ajax game, rival fans held a banner referring to his wife’s cancer. The placard read: ‘Van Gaal, heeft een kankerwijf’, which would roughly translate as ‘Van Gaal has a cancer bitch’. It must have hurt but he refused to let anybody see his anger.

It was only 11 years later, in a rare interview about life outside football, he revealed the devastating effect the episode had on him. Asked to name ‘the last time you cried’, he admitted: ‘When my wife died in 1994


There is still a picture of Fernanda – with whom Van Gaal had two daughters – in the house he shares now with his second wife, Truus.

They met not long after  Fernanda’s death and were  partners for 14 years before Louis proposed in 2007. He couldn’t go down on one knee – he had a broken leg at the time! They married on his birthday – 08-08-08 – as the invitations pointed out.

Van Gaal guards his private life closely but while Truus wanted to secretly tie the knot in Las Vegas, he flew 80 friends to Portugal where they have a holiday home near Albufeira, to join the celebrations.

Truus revealed: ‘The wedding was wonderful. It was important to me, not so important to him. He always regarded me as his wife but the media kept referring to me as “Louis’ girlfriend”. I didn’t like that.

‘I wanted to go to Vegas, just the two of us, but Louis wanted a big celebration. He said: “If you have something to  celebrate, then celebrate”. He was right. A secret marriage would have been wrong. His daughters from his first  marriage belonged there as well.’

The home in Portugal remains their sanctuary. It was there that Manchester United officials  travelled for talks within a few days of sacking David Moyes.Truus has looked at houses in Manchester to follow Van Gaal to his new job, even if she admits she would love to settle for the good life in the sunshine.


She said: ‘Louis can’t help himself. He believes in himself and his methods. I’d thank the Lord if he quit.’

Van Gaal is clearly as much the master of all he surveys at home as he is in his professional life.‘At home he doesn’t do a thing in the house; he doesn’t even know how to make coffee,’ says Truus. ‘He likes me to spoil him and I like to do just that.’

But he does have a sentimental side. Talking about the picture of Fernanda in their living room, she says: ‘Why not? She is a grandma, too. I bought the two grandsons a little AZ jersey (while he was head coach at Alkmaar). You should have seen Louis’ face. Proud and emotional. Louis is a warm-blooded human being. It’s sad not a lot of people know this.’

Adapted from Louis van Gaal by Maarten Meijer, published by Ebury, price £16.99. Copyright 2014 Maarten Meijer.

To order a copy for £14.99 (p&p incl) call 0844 472 4157

Via – Daily Mail



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