He said: “He is a very modest and emotional human being and I like that. Is that a surprise? No.
”The surprise is that he is now one of the best coaches of this world. That is maybe a surprise because you cannot foresee what is going to happen. What people can’t imagine is that he is a very modest and emotional guy.
“He is very special but he is very special for me because I worked with him and we have continued our relationship. And in the football world that is not always normal.
“He has paid tribute to the help he received from me and Bobby Robson – and I appreciate that. But you always do it [achieve success] by yourself.
”I was also an ‘apprentice’ when I was with Leo Beenhaker at Ajax. My eyes and ears were always open then and Jose’s eyes were always open when he was my assistant.
“I knew already he had talent because I let him manage the team in Catalunya Cup matches for me instead of other assistants. But I never expected he would be such a wonderful coach and succeed in so many countries. It’s fantastic.”
As for Mourinho’s self-proclaimed ”special one” tag, Van Gaal added: “Every human being is special because every they have their own identity. That’s also a principle of my philosophy. You have respect for every human being.”