As Louis van Gaal backtracks on retiring, some of his best quotes

Michael Bush

18 Jan 2017

Updated: 11 Nov 2023

On Monday, former Manchester United gaffer Louis van Gaal appeared to indicate that he was bringing his managerial career to an end. Well, it turns out that end may not be nigh after all; the following day, as reported by The Guardian, he told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser that he was merely taking a sabbatical while remaining open to the possibility of retiring.

Nonetheless, in case the ‘Iron Tulip’ doesn’t return to football, we thought we’d look back at some of his most amusing words over a life of coaching.

"Fat man"

At a press conference, following United's 3-3 draw with Newcastle last January, Van Gaal was clearly unhappy with an observation that "Wayne Rooney has come under a lot of criticism this season". Rooney's boss retorted: "We don't speak about Wayne Rooney, you have criticised him." Looking to Sun journalist Neil Custis, he added: "You too, fat man!"

"A lady who plays saxophone fantastically"

Van Gaal obviously knows a good musician when he hears one. At a United awards night in summer 2015, he explained: "I have said to you that you are the best fans of the world but I was tonight a little bit disappointed. And I shall say why. I have seen a lady who plays the saxophone fantastically. Give her a big applause!"

"The best coach in the world"

Obviously not one for false modesty, Van Gaal has sung his own praises many times. When appointed Ajax's gaffer in 1991, he quipped: "Congratulations on signing the best coach in the world." He was at it again when Barcelona made him boss in 1997, enthusing: "I have achieved more with Ajax in six years than Barcelona has in one hundred years."

He remained true to form when he became Netherlands manager three years later, declaring: "I've signed a contract with the Dutch national team until 2006, so I can win the World Cup not once but twice." Alas, he actually left the job after the Dutch didn't get past the qualifying stages for the 2002 World Cup. A lesson in the risk of getting people's hopes up.

"I have the body of a God"

Van Gaal is too sexy for his suit, or so you'd believe if you took his own words seriously. He once insisted: "I have the body of a God. Lederhosen suits me. But I also have a belly." Ah, not such a chiselled Adonis after all.

Still, commenting on Arjen Robben donning leggings for the winter, he revealed: "I've never worn anything like that. I'm never cold. I'm hot-blooded, my wife says so too. We always sleep spooning."

"Liverpool is a fantastic club"

Liverpool is a club that has attracted plenty of plaudits throughout its history, not least for the 18 League titles it has picked up. However, Van Gaal once admitted that he had a particularly amusing reason for liking Liverpool after his United side secured a 3-1 victory over the Merseyside club.

It was United's third victory in a row in its clashes with Liverpool - and the man said: "For me, Liverpool is a fantastic club. Because I have won every game against Liverpool." Ouch...