Former Barca coach Vilanova dies of cancer at 45

Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:01pm EDT
 
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By Tim Hanlon

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has died aged 45 following a battle with cancer that forced him to stand down at the end of last season, the club announced on Friday.

He took over at the Nou Camp ahead of the 2012-13 season having been Pep Guardiola's assistant during the most successful period in Barca's history in which they won three out of four La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues in 2009 and 2011.

Barcelona went on to make the best-ever start to a La Liga season with 18 wins from 19 games but, in December 2012, Vilanova was diagnosed with cancer for the second time.

It meant his assistant Jordi Roura had to take charge of the team on those occasions when he was undergoing treatment.

At the end of the season Vilanova announced he was resigning to concentrate on his recovery from the illness.

"Tito Vilanova has passed away today at the age of 45. It happened this afternoon as our former coach was not able to overcome a disease he has fought since 2011," said Barcelona.

"The club wishes to express their deepest condolences to his family with whom it shares their pain in these moments as do fans, members of FC Barcelona and all the world of football and sport," added a club statement.

Jose Mourinho, a former Barcelona assistant coach, was quoted in a tweet from his current club Chelsea saying: "Tito Vilanova's passing is a sad day for football, for Barcelona and most importantly for his family and friends.   Continued...

 
Barcelona's coach Tito Vilanova listens to a question during a news conference after a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona, July 16, 2013. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino