Robin van Persie Recalls Being Slapped by Louis van Gaal During 2014 World Cup

Myles Cutliffe

Former Manchester United and Arsenal star Robin van Persie has spoken out on the time he was slapped by Louis van Gaal for refusing to be substituted during the 2014 World Cup.

During a match against Costa Rica, the 36-year-old - capped 102 times by Holland - pulled up with cramp and was instructed to leave the pitch by his manager but refused to do so, knowing there would be a penalty shootout to decide the outcome of the game.

Holland hit the woodwork four times during the game but eventually scraped through to the semi finals in physically challenging circumstances, and Van Persie has now opened up on the altercation that left him red-faced - because of the slap, geddit?

Spain v Netherlands: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
Spain v Netherlands: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil / Jeff Gross/Getty Images

In a new book on the retired manager called 'LVG – The Manager and the Total Person', Van Persie said via the Mirror: “The game went into extra-time and I got cramp. Louis shouted 'I am taking you off.'

"I turned around and shouted 'no, no, we have penalties soon' but the last 20 minutes were physically really hard for me. He (Van Gaal) could see that - and steam was coming out of his ears."

At the end of regulation time prior to the penalty shootout, Van Gaal remained angry at his striker's disobedience, and as the team gathered on the touchline he physically lashed out at Van Persie.

Champions Laegue - "Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven"
Champions Laegue - "Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven" / VI-Images/Getty Images

He added: “When the match was finished and we gathered near the touchline, he got close to me and suddenly hit me. Bang! With a big flat hand he dealt me a blow and said in an angry way 'don't ever do that to me again.' I looked at him absolutely stunned. Louis said 'just get on with it and make sure you get it in the net from the spot.'"

Van Persie scored in the shootout as the Dutch advanced. Holland were again taken to penalties in the semi final, though this time Argentina ended their dreams of World Cup glory.

In the aftermath of the 2014 World Cup, Van Gaal was appointed Manchester United manager, dealing with an ageing Van Persie, and the striker was dealt another blow in the summer of 2015 when Van Gaal told him his time was up at the club.

Feyenoord v ADO Den Haag - Dutch Eredivisie
Feyenoord v ADO Den Haag - Dutch Eredivisie / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Van Persie added: “He (Van Gaal) said in a stone hard way 'you are the player, Robin, and I am the manager. I'm not leaving here - so you have to leave. You are done here in Manchester.'

"My family was settled so I said to him 'that's what you think – I have a contract for another year.' Louis just said 'you still have to go.'

"I asked him to explain where it had gone wrong between us, because I really didn't understand."