Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta believes Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal played a big part in his career after giving him the confidence to succeed at the Nou Camp.
Van Gaal took charge of Barcelona in 1997 and helped a young Iniesta break into the first-team.
He also gave Xavi his senior debut, starting what would go on to be magnificent careers for the midfield duo.
Iniesta thanked van Gaal for giving him an opportunity at Barcelona and praised the Dutchman’s qualities as a coach.
Speaking about van Gaal, Iniesta said: “I was 17 years of age and delighted to be in the first-team, and he gave me that opportunity. I knew that he had always done tremendous work with the young players.
“I was excited to work with him and take such an important step in my career. He’s hard working, honest, sincere. Above all, he’s a hugely successful manager who’s done great things in the game.”
Although van Gaal has fallen out with players such as Rivaldo during his career, the large majority of his former players have nothing but respect for the 63-year-old.
In many ways, his management style is similar to Sir Alex Ferguson in the way he keeps a tight leash over his playing staff.
Despite the troubles that Radamel Falcao, Angel di Maria and Juan Mata have suffered at various points this season, none have publicly criticised van Gaal in the press. It is refreshing to see after David Moyes lost the dressing room while in charge of United last year.