AMSTERDAM (AP) — Veteran coach Louis van Gaal is coming out of soccer retirement to help get Dutch power Ajax back on track after its worst start to a season in decades.
The Amsterdam club, a four-time European champion, announced late Tuesday that 72-year-old Van Gaal will advise the Ajax Supervisory Board “on football technical matters.”
Under new coach Maurice Steijn and with a roster packed with new and inexperienced players signed over the summer, Ajax is 15th in the 18-team Eredivisie after five matches. Ajax also struggled last season in the aftermath of the departure of Erik ten Haag to Manchester United.
“I want to help Ajax. I currently spend a big part of my life in Portugal, and this can be well combined with my role as an external advisor,” Van Gaal said in a statement on the Ajax website.
Van Gaal said the club must find its way "back up to the top, and we all have to contribute to that.”
Van Gaal, who said last year he was being treated for prostate cancer, has been a hero at Ajax ever since leading the club to its last Champions League triumph. He coached a team packed with home-grown talent that beat AC Milan 1-0 in the final to win Europe’s top club competition in 1995.
He also has coached top clubs including Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester United and had two stints coaching the Netherlands national team, most recently at the World Cup in Qatar.
Van Gaal led the Netherlands to the quarterfinals in Qatar last year, where his team lost to Lionel Messi’s Argentina, which went on to win the title. After the ill-tempered match was decided by a penalty shootout, Van Gaal said it was his “very last match.”
Late last month, the match between Ajax and arch rival Feyenoord was abandoned with Feyenoord leading 3-0 after home fans threw fireworks onto the field at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam. Hours later, Ajax fired its director of soccer, Sven Mislintat, who only joined the club in May.
Feyenoord won the match 4-0 after the remaining minutes were later played behind closed doors.
Van Gaal's appointment fills a void that will be left when former board member Jan van Halst leaves the club after acting as interim CEO.
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The Associated Press