Cancer-stricken Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova quit on Friday to undergo further treatment for his illness, the president of the Spanish champions, Sandro Rosell, said.
The 44-year-old Vilanova had a tumour removed from a salivary gland in his throat in November 2011 and in December 2012 he suffered a relapse. He underwent surgery again followed by 10 weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in New York.
Vilanova returned to the helm of Barcelona in March and led the club to the Spanish league title. “After evaluating the results of routine rests this week Tito Vilanova has been presented with the option of carrying out a treatment to continue to control his illness which will make it incompatible to carry out the role of first team coach from now on,” Rosell told a news conference.
“I want to ask everyone, especially the media, in the name of his family to show the maximum respect for the privacy of the whole process which will start now,” he added. Vilanova’s replacement will be announced “probably in the beginning of next week,” Rosell said.
Club officials met with the squad and the team decided they would not travel to Poland to face Lechia Gdansk in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, he added. “There was no mood to do it,” said Rosell, who was flanked by the club’s sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta.
Several Barcelona players, including Argintine forward Lionel Messi and veteran defender Carles Puyol, attended the press conference in their kits.
All the encouragement in the world for Tito and his family. We are all with you
- Thiago Alcantara
Tito will once again win this terrible battle facing him. On behalf of everyone, I send him all my love & support
- Andres Iniesta
Strength Tito! We are all with you in this fight
- Lionel Messi
Football is equally fleeting in its victories and defeats. All my support for Tito Vilanova and his family! Support! You are going to win this game!
- Jose Reina, former Barca goalkeeper
The Tottenham manager is a young, tactically astute manager hungry for success in the mould of Pep Guardiola.
Rubi (Joan Francesc Ferrer)
Joan Francesc Ferrer, known as Rubi, only joined the Barca staff as a coach last month, having guided fellow Catalan side Girona to the brink of their first ever promotion to the top flight.
The Swansea boss has experience of coaching in the Primera Division from his spells at Getafe and Real Mallorca, and has proved an undoubted success.