Ron Vlaar misses a penalty (AFP)
Cape Town - Louis van Gaal has confirmed that Ron Vlaar was his third choice to take the first penalty after two players refused his request to take the all important first kick in the penalty shootout against Argentina.
Most spectators were surprised when Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar stepped up first to open the semi-final shootout against Argentina.
Sergio Romero, the Argentine goalkeeper who learnt his trade under the Dutch coach at AZ Alkmaar, saved his kick and it was advantage Argentina.
In comparison, Lionel Messi stepped up first for Argentina and comfortably slotted home.
Argentina never surrendered the advantage and ultimately defeated the Netherlands 4-2 in the shootout.
"I asked two players to take the first ball before ending up with Vlaar," said Van Gaal.
The new Red Devils boss then revealed why Vlaar was choice number three, "I thought he was the best player on the pitch so should have confidence."
"Cillessen will be disappointed with that last penalty. That was the one he could have saved with stronger wrists."
Van Gaal signed for AZ Alkmaar in 2007 and the manager will be left ruing his earlier work with the Argentine keeper.
Romero had two years in which to learn from Van Gaal before the manager left to take the job as Bayern Munich manager.
"I taught Romero how to stop penalties, so that hurts," Van Gaal said.
Romero sought out Van Gaal after the match.
"I went to the dressing room to thank him," he said. "He is someone who helped me a lot when I arrived in the Netherlands, in a completely different country, with different customs.
Romero only had kind words for his former boss and fondly remembers Van Gaal's guidance when he first arrived at AZ Alkmaar.
"At the beginning I didn't speak a word, and he spoke Spanish and he helped me a lot."
Soccer can be a cruel and funny game.