West Bromwich Albion full back Sebastien Pocognoli has explained that Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal helped nurture his own talent when the two represented AZ Alkmaar.
West Brom tackle United later today, Monday, at the Hawthorns and the prospect of lining up against his former manager has Pocognoli reminiscing.
“I was very young when I went to AZ Alkmaar, I was 19 years old, and I worked for two years under him," Pocognoli, who has returned 11 tackles and 18 clearances from six Premier League outings this season, said to the club's official website.
Van Gaal is renowned for his ability to develop young prospects into talented senior-level athletes and Pocognoli claims it was his technical ability that flourished most when operating under van Gaal.
“He helped my formation as a footballer, pass-control-pass, tactically, because defensively I was not so strong. And also my personality because he likes players with personality.
“He’s not only a good trainer but he’s also a good human being. I learn a lot from every trainer I work under, as I am now under Mr Irvine."
He continued: “For me, he (Van Gaal) was very important because I was young. I don’t know if I worked with him now whether I would be the same, but when I was 19/20 years of age, all that he said I tried to do.”
Pocognoli and van Gaal won the Eredivisie in 2009.