Guardiola, who has presided over a period of unprecedented success at the Nou Camp — the club have claimed 13 trophies in his four years at the helm, admitted he has been pondering his future for some time.

End of an era: Pep Guardiola at a press conference in Barcelona where he announced his decision to quit as coach. PIC/AFP

At a press conference, he said: “Four years is an eternity as Barca coach. In the month of October I announced to the president and to the sporting director that I thought my spell was coming to an end. “I have given everything and I have nothing left and need to recharge my batteries. The demands have been great and I have not been able to rest much. I have to recover and the only way I can do that is by distancing myself. Otherwise, we would have ended up damaging each other.”

Tito Vilanova

Guardiola’s announcement comes in the aftermath of a miserable week that saw Barcelona being knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea and also falling to a demoralising defeat at the hands of Real Madrid at Camp Nou — virtually ending their chances of defending their Spanish title. Guardiola confirmed he will now take a sabbatical from the game despite being linked with numerous jobs across Europe. “I don’t know what I will do now but I will not go straight to coaching,” he said.

Guardiola golden reign at Camp Nou...
>> 2 Champions League triumphs (2009, 2011)
>> 2 European Supercup triumphs (2009, 2011)
>> 2 World Club Cup titles (2009, 2011)
>> 3 Spanish league titles (2009, 2010, 2011)
>> 1 Spanish Cup (2009)
>> 1 Spanish Supercup (2009)