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

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

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

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. It was here that van Gaal took his first steps as a football manager. In 1988 after a year as manager of AZ, he was given the opportunity to join the coaching staff of Ajax and joined then as overall manager of the youth teams and then later as assistant manager. In 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 Supercup. In season 93-94 he went a step further and won the Dutch league and the Dutch Supercup.

In season 94-95 Ajax again won the League Championship and the Supercup 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 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 Futbol Club Barcelona as the replacement of 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.

vangaal004.jpgSeason 1997-98 was his first year as manager of Barça and van Gaal managed to win three trophies with the club: the League, the Kings Cup 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 League which meant that after 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 Kings Cup. 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.

vangaal002.jpgThis 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.

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