On April 25, 2014, the footballing world grieved the death of Tito Vilanova, who tragically lost his battle with throat cancer at 45 years of age. He was a skilled and all around cherished coach and we take a look at his successful and illustrious career.
Vilanova joined the Barcelona La Masia academy at the age of 13, and he worked his way up the age groups, in the end spending a couple of seasons in Barcelona B, notching six goals from midfield.
Tito had a loan spell with second division out Figueres followed in 1990/91 and he winds up as one of their most imperative players as they nearly won a promotion to Spanish top flight the following season, only to miss out to Cadiz in the promotion play-off.
Celta Vigo were sufficiently impressed by his performance to snatch him up in 1992 and it was with the Galician side that he made his LaLiga debut, however, he encountered an intense introduction to the League as he missed a spot kick in a derby against Deportivo La Coruna.
Despite the fact that Celta would reach the Copa del Rey final the next season, the Catalan scarcely featured and his playing career went downhill from there. He turned out for Badajoz, Real Mallorca, Lleida, Elche and Gramenet in the lower divisions, before hanging up his boots in the 2001/02 season.
Similarly, as he did amid his playing time, Vilanova started his coaching venture at Barcelona, training the likes of Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique at Cadet level. When Joan Laporta become FC Barcelona president in 2003 there were a number changes and he was released, taking the role of sporting director at parts at Figueres and Terrasa.
Guardiola at that point took him back to the Camp Nou, though, making him his partner at Barcelona B and afterward with the all-conquering first team. The Tito-Pep story, from adoration to disappointment.
In spite of the fact that the duo functioned admirably together amid their years sharing a dugout, they developed separately when Guardiola left and when the assistant became the Camp Nou ace. It was amid Vilanova’s debut season of 2012/13 that he suffered his throat cancer and he conceded in a public interview that he was disappointed at the current Manchester City manager’s. That Guardiola “wasn’t there for him” during his rehabilitation from cancer.
Four years without Tito Vilanova. Your legacy will live on forever. pic.twitter.com/JmlIGrTntI
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 25, 2018
While malignancy would compel the tactician to make a step back from the team in December of 2012, he had started that season so well that the Blaugrana were at that point well on their way to a LaLiga title.
He came back to finish the job in April of 2013 and furthermore managed to handle 11 La Masia graduates at the same time in one match, an accomplishment that hadn’t been achieved in decades.
Without Pep, Vilanova steered independently and, in spite of his sickness, lead the Barca to their well known ‘100-point’ La Liga triumph that saw them finish with a 15 point cushion over Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid.
On July 19, 2013, he declared that he’d be leaving the Camp Nou, to focus on battling his persevering cancer. He battled valiantly but lost his fight on 25th April 2014.