Tito Vilanova, former Barcelona coach, died of throat cancer on Friday. He was 45 years old. Vilanova had a throat tumor and was hospitalized in Barcelona the week before. The news has stunned the sporting and football world. The team released a statement on his death.
His long battle against cancer started two and a half years ago. In the end of year 2011, Vilanova fell ill and took some time off after surgery. In December 2012, he had to undergo another surgery to have a second tumor removed and went to the USA a few times throughout the season for more treatment before going back to the sidelines. Part of the most successful Barcelona team of the history, Vilanova stepped down as Barcelona manager last July to go on with his treatment.
Josep Maria Bartomeu, President of the club, wrote on his social sites: “Tito Vilanova was a wonderful person, and will never be forgotten at FC Barcelona.” Barcelona team superstar, Lionel Messi, wrote on his social media page: “A person difficult to forget. I will always remember you.”
Tito Vilanova, being an assistant to one of the biggest posts in European football, helped Pep Guardiola drive Barcelona into a most flourishing stage and make it one of the top teams steered by Messi in the world. Under Guardiola, the team won 14 major trophies between the year 2008 and 2012.
Vilanova, being a young player, was at the training academy of Barcelona between 1984 and 1989 but did not make it to the first and foremost team. Rather, he moved on to begin playing for clubs before a knee injury cut his career short.
Vilanova then decided to go into training and managed a job with Barcelona’s youth players, coaching current players Messi, Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas. Vilanova worked as sport director at third division club Terrassa before going back to Barcelona to take charge the club’s Barcelona B feeder team.
He made a return to Barcelona team in 2007-08 as assistant manager this time to Guardiola with Barça B, who he assisted direct to promotion up to Division 2B. His accomplishment brought him huge individual honor. In 2013 he was named the manager of the year by the Mundo Deportivo and Marca newspapers.
Sadly, on 22 November 2011, his illness put an untimely end to the vision of running the team he considered as his life blood. He was not able to offer his complete endeavor to the job in the 2012-13 seasons, and at the beginning of the following campaign, the announcement came on 19 July 2013, that he was unfit to carry on in the position.
In a statement released by Barcelona, his death is described as one of the most tragic times in the entire history of FC Barcelona, adding that the team will keep his memory alive forever. It went on to say that he will always form part of the club’s proud history and be remembered eternally.
Former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova left behind his wife, Montse Chaure, and children–daughter Carlota and son Adrià. His son is at present in Barcelona’s youth system. Tito Vilanova’s funeral is scheduled on Monday at Barcelona’s cathedral.
By Rahad Abir