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Erik ten Hag sends emotional message to Sebastien Haller after winning the African Cup of Nations

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In an emotional testament to resilience and friendship, Manchester United’s head coach Erik ten Hag shared his heartfelt response to Sebastien Haller’s triumphant goal for Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations. Ten Hag and Haller share a history that traces back to their days at Utrecht and later at Ajax, where their professional relationship deepened. The manager has been a pillar of support for Haller, particularly through his battle with testicular cancer.

Watching Haller’s decisive contribution in Ivory Coast’s 2-1 victory over Nigeria, ten Hag was moved to reconnect with his former charge, praising his journey back to the pitch. “I had direct contact with Seb on Sunday night after the final,” ten Hag disclosed. “There has also been frequent contact during his period of illness. I tried to support him as much as possible. Of course, he had only been away from Ajax for a fortnight when the illness was diagnosed. For me too, that was a huge blow.”

Ten Hag expressed admiration for Haller’s handling of his diagnosis and his fight back to health, culminating in his recent sporting success. Haller’s journey from battling cancer in July 2022, just weeks after his transfer to Borussia Dortmund, to becoming an African champion is a narrative of determination and strength.

He said: “A sportsman in the prime of his life with a young family of three children and then such an illness. The way he dealt with it deserves great respect. He did not flee in anger but accepted it immediately and took everything he could to improve his chances of recovery and be resilient.

“He has fought his way back tremendously and then it is great that this is now followed by such a well-deserved sporting highlight.” Haller was told he had cancer in July 2022, just weeks after joining Borussia Dortmund from Ajax.

Despite a setback last season, where Haller missed a crucial penalty for Dortmund that could have clinched the Bundesliga title, ten Hag views his latest triumph as a testament to his character and resilience. The Manchester United manager lauded Haller’s team spirit, humility, and calmness, traits that not only define him as an exceptional player but also underscore his significant contribution to any team.

Haller’s story, as highlighted by ten Hag, serves as an inspiring account of overcoming adversity, with his decisive goal in a major tournament marking a pinnacle in his recovery and career.

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