Jean-Paul van Gastel left for Guangzhou R&F in December 2020, but returned not long after. The former Feyenoord captain was first assistant to Giovanni van Bronckhorst, but was allowed to return as head coach because of a confluence of circumstances: Van Gastel is happy that he is back in China, he tells Algemeen Dagblad.
At the end of 2020 Van Gastel left in the wake of Van Bronckhorst, who wanted to be with his family again. “Gio wanted to go back after a year because of his family and made use of a clause in the contract. Since March 2020, the borders were closed, so we hadn‘t seen our families in nine months,” says Van Gastel, who returned to the Netherlands in the middle of the lockdown. “Before 21:00 at home, the children do not go to school. I had nowhere to go.”
The Croat Goran Tomic would succeed Van Bronckhorst, but did a positive corontest and did not receive a visa. Partly because of this, Van Gastel returned faster than expected and for the first time he was able to stand on his feet as head coach. “Plan B, plan C, whatever plan I was, they came to me. Also because I already had a visa and work permit. I got a call on Wednesday to get on the plane on Friday.” It means that the formerly inseparable duo Van Bronckhorst-Van Gastel is now separated. “It’s a pity, but Gio understood that I was going to do this. I have to get out of my comfort zone now, but as a human being, trainer it makes me better.”
With his quarantine period in China over, Van Gastel is free to go wherever he wants. Public life in Guangzhou has started somewhat again. “If you have a green code on the app, you can go anywhere. Then I can shop here, go to the cafe and come home whenever I want. Here I live the way I want to live.”