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‘I don’t want to miss it’

Big day soon for father-to-be Van Buyten

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You don’t notice anything remarkable about Daniel van Buyten at the moment, even on Wednesday, with the Big Day coming closer and closer. The Belgian led the way in the sprints, and kept his eye firmly on the ball and his opponents in a passing exercise. His sweat-drenched shirt clung to his torso, and his hair became soaking wet. “I’m trying to remain totally focused in training,” he told, “but obviously I’m keeping an ear open in case anything happens.” In other words: in case there’s news from the hospital.

Van Buyten is on the verge of becoming a father. His partner Celine is due to give birth this weekend, “but obviously, the baby could come at any time now. It’s just a case of waiting,” said the 32-year-old, who was excused from the Lake Garda training camp for that very reason. “I don’t want to miss it. It’s my first child, so I want to be there and support my partner.”

Louis van Gaal entirely understands the father-to-be’s approach. “He told me to be sure and enjoy the moments to come. They’re unique, especially with your first child. It’ one of the most important points in any life,” related Van Buyten, whose home is already set up and arranged for the new arrival.

And it will be a girl, the Belgian revealed, although he declined to state the new baby’s name. That will remain as much of a secret as Van Gaal’s line-up for the club’s first match of the season. Van Buyten is currently not thinking about whether his name will appear on the team-sheet that day. “You’re always competing for your place at Bayern Munich. It’s not something the players worry about, it’s completely normal and the way it has to be,” he said, “everyone has to put in the effort.”

It is obvious to anyone watching that Van Buyten is doing exactly that. “Pre-season is very important,” he acknowledged, “I’m a professional and I’m training as normal.” However, he and his partner can be in touch at any time. “Celine has a number of telephone numbers, including the numbers for our physios. She’ll always be able to reach someone as soon as anything happens. And when it does, I won’t waste any time, I’ll be off at once.” Even if there’s nothing obviously remarkable about Daniel these days, they hardly rate as everyday training sessions for the big Belgian stopper.