Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk hopes he and his Netherlands teammates can make the World Cup a memorable one for manager Louis van Gaal.
The Dutch boss revealed in an interview with RTL that he has been battling prostate cancer.
Despite 25 radiotherapy treatments, Van Gaal managed to keep his diagnosis hidden from his players.
On his players, Van Gaal said: “They don’t know. They see a blush on my cheeks and think, ‘what a healthy (person) that is’. That is of course not the case.”
He added: “I’ve been through a lot with illnesses, including with my own wife. So that’s just part of life.
“(I) as a human being have probably become richer because of all those experiences. I thought that should also be in the film.”
Van Dijk admitted Van Gaal’s revelation was a “big shock” but wasn’t surprised his manager kept it hidden.
Asked if it summed up the person Van Gaal is that he kept his diagnosis away from his players, Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk told a press conference: “Yes definitely.
“I was also in shock last night when I heard his interview. He’s getting his film out next week, so I was just wondering how he would promote it a little bit and speak about his life, and then obviously that was a big shock.
“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.
“But I told him as well that we are definitely going to be there for him as a group whenever he needs it, and hopefully we can also make it for him a World Cup to never forget.”
Van Gaal managed Manchester United in the Premier League for two seasons and the club tweeted their message of support.
‘Everybody at Manchester United is fully behind our former manager, Louis van Gaal, in his battle against cancer. Sending you strength and courage, Louis.”
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker tweeted: Sending best wishes and hopes for a full recovery to Louis Van Gaal, who announced on Dutch television tonight that he’s battling prostate cancer.’
Barcelona also paid tribute to Van Gaal – who managed the club between 1997 and 2000 and again from 2002 to 2003.
‘Our thoughts and prayers go out to former Barca manager Louis van Gaal, who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer,’ the club said on Twitter. ‘Stay strong, Louis, and get well soon.’