Van Gaal, who is currently on duty in his role as Netherland coach, will officially join United following the World Cup in Brazil.
But van Gaal, preparing for the Netherlands’ friendly against Wales at the Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday, took time out from his international role to admit just how close he was to taking the Spurs job when Andre Villas-Boas was dismissed as manager at White Hart Lane in December.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy had talks with van Gaal, but the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss eventually rejected the approach and then chose United over the north Londoners when both job offers were still on the table after David Moyes was dismissed as Old Trafford chief in April.
“I came very close. Very close. As a little boy I was a fan of Tottenham Hotspur with the team of Jimmy Greaves when he was the champion,” van Gaal said.
“Jimmy Greaves was my idol. So I was very close. Why? Because I was a fan of Spurs during my childhood. Those fantastic white shirts and Jimmy Greaves.”
Van Gaal refused to talk about his impending move to Manchester as his focus lies with the Netherlands’ ahead of their World Cup opener against holders Spain in Salvador on June 13.
Yet the 62-year-old did offer an insight into his management style and how he will cope with the likes of Wayne Rooney when he arrives at United.
Van Gaal has a reputation as something of a disciplinarian, but he claims he just wants to be loved by his players.
“I’m bothered about whether the players like me. It’s very important,” he said.
“I am a coach who wants a good relationship with my players. And I do everything to reach that level but sometimes it is not reachable as the players are not open-minded and don’t adapt to the norms that I put in the team.
“Most of the players I have managed are saying lovely things about me. There are also players who are very angry with me. Frank Ribery, Luca Toni, Hristo Stoichkov and Rivaldo.
“Rivaldo was nothing and I bought him and then he was a world player of the year.
“When you are not listening, you are always out of the team, or I go out.”
Van Gaal also expressed his disappointment that Wales stars Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey were missing from Chris Coleman’s squad, depriving his players of a tough pre-World Cup workout.
Bale, who scored and played 120 minutes of Real Madrid’s extra-time win over Madrid rivals Atletico in the Champions League Final, has cited a leg injury.
But the ex-Spurs star was pictured in Indonesia this week as part of a personal tour, while Ramsey, who played all 120 minutes and scored the winner in the FA Cup final for Arsenal, is being rested by his country.
Asked if he was disappointed over the star pair’s absence, Van Gaal said: “Of course. I have said to my board that they have to insist on playing against Gareth Bale and Ramsey.
“But this can happen in football. I don’t know why, whether it is injury or holidays.
“When it is a holiday I am a little bit disappointed. But I can understand it because Bale has had a difficult but also impressive season under his belt.
“It is better that we have the best team of Wales because we need resistance. I think Wales without these players are weaker.”