Sarina Wiegman wins top coach honors; Louis van Gaal gets royal title
Sarina Wiegman was again named Coach of the Year at FIFA at the world football association’s gala in Paris on Monday. Louis van Gaan was appointed to the Order of Oranje-Nassau and the KNVB federal knighthood at a thank-you evening in Zeist.
Wiegman, who won the European title at Wembley last summer with the English women’s football players, previously won the prestigious Coach of the Year title in 2017 and 2020. At the time, the woman from The Hague still coached the Oranje Lionesses. She also won the European championship once with the Netherlands.
“I’ve loved football since I could walk,” Wiegman said on stage in the French capital. “And over the years, I’ve seen how women’s football has grown. Here in the room are the heroes that women’s football has produced. Little girls now have role models to look up to. A lot of people have worked to make all of this possible, and I am grateful to them.”
She also reflected on an “incredible” year in England. “It is fantastic what we have achieved there. Many people have contributed to it, and I am very grateful to them. Let’s work together to further develop our sport.”
Wiegman’s competitors were the French Sonia Mompastor, the coach of Olympique Lyon, and the Brazillian national coach Pia Sundhage, who comes from Sweden.
Louis van Gaal, who coached the Oranje men during the last World Cup, received royal honors at a thank-you evening in Zeist. Minister Conny Helder presented the 71-year-old football coach with the decorations for Officer in the Order of Oranje-Nassau on behalf of the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare, and Sports. According to the KNVB, it is a recognition of the special sporting achievements with which Van Gaal has represented the Netherlands nationally and internationally and the impact this has had on our society.
“You believe - no, you know - that investing in talent pays off. And that a good player by themself is not much more than that: a good player. You need good team players for good football,” said Helder. “You ask a young fan if he runs fast. Or what position he plays in. You always ask your players, your colleagues how things are at home, with partners, with children. Colleagues who you notice are lonely are warmly welcomed at home by you and Truus. And while you are the proud father of two fantastic girls at home, you also took a football son under your wing here and there. Several football players and several staff members call you their second father. They don’t do that for nothing.”
KNVB chairman Just Spee presented Van Gaal with the award of the federal knighthood, the second-highest award within the KNVB. “Thanks to you, Oranje has color in its cheeks again. We can move forwards,” Spee said.
About a hundred guests were present at the thank you evening, including players from the three selections with which the former national coach worked. Van Gaal played 63 matches as national coach, and Oranje won 40 times. Nineteen games ended in a draw, and only four were lost.