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Pioneering Dutchman

Louis van Gaal: The players believed in me

He is the first Dutch coach to lead a team to the Bundesliga title, he has coached champion teams in three European countries (the Netherlands, Spain and Deutschland), and has won a total of seven championship titles. After laying hands on Germany’s championship trophy for the first time on Saturday, the 58-year-old discussed in a Q&A session the current season, his team and the upcoming finals.

Q: How does your first title in Munich rank among your successes over the years?

Van Gaal: “Every championship is fantastic, of course – especially in your first season. I achieved that at Barcelona, and again here. And I’m also proud that I am the first Dutch coach to win the German championship. But as you well know, I haven’t done this alone, but at the head of a large staff.”

Q: What differences have their been from previous titles?

Van Gaal: “I have been champion with four different clubs in three countries, and each title has been special in its own way. With Ajax I won three in a row, there I built things up. That was a different experience from what happened here. In Barcelona I was fortunate that the club management very much believed in me, because I had many challenges to overcome in that first year. And with AZ Alkmaar, a small club with young players that had never won anything before, the championship was a really great achievement.”

Q: What is your success with Bayern down to?

Van Gaal: “The players believed in me from day one. That is the best thing that can happen to a coach. Together we always believed that we could do it, and success followed.”