Dutch former football player and manager Louis van Gaal presented compatriots Sarina Wiegman and Vivianne Miedema with awards from FIFA.
Wiegman, who was announced as The Best FIFA Women's Coach last year, helped the Netherlands to a second-place finish at the 2019 World Cup. She has since guided the team to ten wins from ten Euro qualifying games.
The 51-year-old will lead the Netherlands at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She will then depart to take up the position of head coach for the Lionesses.
Before heading to Japan for the Games, the Dutch squad held a training camp in Zeist. Although they had a warm-up game against South Africa cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, 1,000 fans were invited to watch the players in a final training session.
Van Gaal, one of the most decorated managers in world football, made an appearance at the end of the session, carrying trophies for both Wiegman and Miedema.
The Arsenal striker was named in the FIFA FIFPRO Women’s World XI and has continued to prove her worth after another emphatic year in front of goal, scoring 18 goals and racking up five assists in the Women’s Super League.
“That was really special,” Wiegman told FIFA. “The actual award ceremony was last December, and it was [presented] online. I think it’s fantastic that Louis has come out here, also to present Vivianne with her award.
“I said to him that it was 20 years ago that I played my 100th game for the Netherlands and he presented me with an award for that as well. He was coach of the men’s Dutch national team then, and now 20 years later he presents me with this great award, which is for the entire team of course – both players and staff.”
Wiegman was also named Best FIFA Women's Coach in 2017, shortly after the Netherlands triumphed at the European Championship that year.
Miedema revealed she was fully focused on the upcoming Olympic Games, where the Netherlands are set to face Brazil, China PR and Zambia in Group F.
“Obviously, it’s quite special to pick up a prize like that,” she said. “But I hope that in a couple of weeks I’ll come home with an Olympic medal. That’s what it’s all about right now.
“It’s going to be a really tough tournament. It’s going to be different from the World Cup or the EURO. We just need to be the best we can be, and hopefully it will be enough.”
According to ESPN, van Gaal stayed to give the Dutch squad a team talk, urging them to “go to the Olympics and go for gold.” The 69-year-old manager of Ajax, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar, Bayern Munich and Manchester United during his career, and had two spells in charge of the Netherlands national team.
Before his time as a coach, Van Gaal played as a midfielder for Royal Antwerp, Telstar, Sparta Rotterdam, Ajax and AZ.News Now - Sport News