Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk has said the team is determined to make the Qatar World Cup a memorable experience for manager Louis van Gaal, who revealed he is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.
Speaking on Dutch television show Humberto, former Manchester United and Barcelona manager Van Gaal revealed his diagnosis on Sunday but said he plans to carry on in his role.
The 70-year-old Dutchman said he had undergone 25 bouts of radiotherapy and began treatment last year after his diagnosis in 2020. Van Gaal also said he had not spoken to his players about his illness.
Van Dijk said he was in shock after hearing the interview in which the veteran manager stated that he often left the national team at night to go to the hospital without the players finding out until now.
"I messaged him after the interview. It definitely says a lot about him. I said to him as well, he's probably not that type of guy that needs a lot of sympathy, that's how he is," Liverpool defender Van Dijk told reporters.
"But I told him that we are definitely going to be there for him as a group whenever he needs it, and hopefully we can also make it a World Cup for him to never forget."
The Netherlands face hosts Qatar, Senegal and Ecuador in the group stages of the World Cup which kicks off in November. Van Gaal is in his third term as head coach of the Dutch national side. He managed the Oranje between 2000-2002 and 2012-2014, when they finished third at the World Cup in Brazil.