Former Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has revealed Louis van Gaal slapped him when he refused to be substituted during a crucial match in the 2014 World Cup.
Van Gaal coached Van Persie at international level with the Netherlands and also at club level when the Dutchman became Manchester United manager in 2014.
Van Persie was shown the door at Old Trafford by Van Gaal and the striker revealed how unpredictable the coach could be.
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The Netherlands were playing Costa Rica in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the game remained goalless after 90 minutes.
‘The game went into extra-time and I got cramp. Louis shouted “I am taking you off”. I turned around and shouted “no, no, we have penalties soon” but the last 20 minutes were physically really hard for me,’ Van Persie said in a new book detailing Van Gaal’s career, LVG – The Manager and the Total Person.
‘He (Van Gaal) could see that – and steam was coming out of his ears. When the match was finished and we gathered near the touchline, he got close to me and suddenly hit me.
‘Bang! With a big flat hand he dealt me a blow and said in an angry way “don’t ever do that to me again”.
‘I looked at him absolutely stunned. Louis said “just get on with it and make sure you get it in the net from the spot”.
‘I am glad I managed to put the penalty in the corner. When I look back on that incident, it was a weird moment, but that was Louis for you. ‘Sometimes he can hug a player – and sometimes he can hit you.’
Van Gaal eventually sold Van Persie after a year working together at the club due to the forward’s continuous injury problems.
Van Persie recalled how unhappy he was when Van Gaal eventually told him in the summer of 2015 that his career at United was over.
‘He (Van Gaal) said in a stone hard way “you are the player, Robin, and I am the manager. I’m not leaving here – so you have to leave. You are done here in Manchester”.
‘My family was settled so I said to him “that’s what you think – I have a contract for another year”. Louis just said “you still have to go”.
‘I asked him to explain where it had gone wrong between us, because I really didn’t understand.
‘Louis just said “there is a difference between Louis van Gaal the national manager and Louis van Gaal the club manager”.
‘I said “we will never agree on this” and then I got up, shook his hand and left. Have I blamed him for this? It hurt. This had a massive impact on my family.
‘Of course, I’d had some injuries. But I even played with pain and I went over the edge.
‘I worked my guts off every day. I always gave absolutely everything. I still found it tough to get that message from him.’