‘Iron Tulip’ Van Gaal to retire

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Manchester United’s Dutch manager Louis van Gaal waving as he walks out onto the pitch for the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England. Firebrand manager Louis van Gaal has announced his retirement from professional football after more than three decades, citing “family reasons,” a Dutch newspaper reported on January 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF

Firebrand manager Louis van Gaal has announced his retirement from professional football after more than three decades, citing “family reasons,” a Dutch newspaper reported Tuesday.

“I don’t believe I’ll return back to work,” Van Gaal told popular daily tabloid De Telegraaf, which added he is “definitely drawing a line under his training career.”

The man nicknamed the “Iron Tulip” has received dozens of lucrative offers since his unceremonial axing from Manchester United last year, including a three-year contract in the East, most likely China, which would pay an estimated 50 million euros ($53.4 million) over three years, the paper said.

“I could have taken the contract,” Van Gaal told the paper. “But I’m still here. So much has happened within my family and it has become time to face facts.”

Flamboyant and outspoken, Van Gaal, 65, found himself in the midst of a family drama after the husband of one of his daughters unexpectedly passed away, De Telegraaf said.

Despite winning the FA Cup last year — United’s first major silverware since the retirement of legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson — Van Gaal was given the boot in May.

He said then he was contemplating taking another manager’s job.

“I said I would stop, but then cleverly called it a ‘sabbatical’. But now I don’t believe I’ll return to work,” Van Gaal told De Telegraaf on receiving a lifetime achievement award in The Hague on Monday.

“Actually I wanted to stop after the (FIFA) World Cup,” in Brazil in 2014, where Van Gaal’s Dutch side ended third behind Argentina and Germany.

“Then suddenly England called. It was a beautiful country I did not yet have on my cv,” he said.

Winning the FA Cup with the Red Devils “was the greatest achievement of my career,” he added.

Asked whether he has realised all his dreams, the man often known for his blunt answers during press conferences said: “I have achieved everything during my lifetime.”

“I don’t want to brag about all the countries where I’ve worked, and the level of clubs I’ve coached, but for me there’s really nothing else left (to do),” Van Gaal said.

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