Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova has stepped down from his post to refocus on his cancer battle after another relapse was recently discovered. CNN Italian sports correspondent Tancredi Palmeri passed along the news.
"A news we would have never want to give: after valuing the results of medical tests on Vilanova"...— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) July 19, 2013
Barcelona president Rosell confirms Vilanova resigned— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) July 19, 2013
The 44-year-old boss has dealt with health issues over the past few years. He underwent surgery late last year after a recurrence of parotid gland cancer, which forced him away from the club for treatment that included chemotherapy and radiation, according to ESPN.
He was welcomed back to Barcelona in March. Unfortunately, it appears the health issues have once again taken center stage. The successful manager decided it was best for him to step away in order to fight cancer once again.
Palmeri reports Barca is expecting to announce a new manager next week. Club president Sandro Rosell also called it a "hard hit."
Barcelona president announces that new manager will be announced next week: "I want to tell you the life goes on. It's a hard hit for Barça"— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) July 19, 2013
Barcelona also announced they will not travel to Poland for a previously scheduled friendly match.
Rosell announces that Barcelona will not play planned friendly in Poland this weekend: "We've decided not to go to Poland tomorrow"— AS English (@English_AS) July 19, 2013
Vilanova's decision led to a flurry of messages on social media.
Sid Lowe of The Guardian summed up the setback in two words.
Horribly sad.— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) July 19, 2013
Although it's a fact often lost during the endless football cycle, freelance journalist Richard Buxton makes a key point. Health always comes before the game.
Terrible new about Tito Vilanova. Health always comes before football. Hopefully he has a speedy & lasting recovery #FCB— Richard Buxton (@Richard_Buxton_) July 19, 2013
Liverpool goalkeeper and Spanish international Pepe Reina sent along a message of support. Palmeri provided a translation of the comments.
El fútbol es efímero igual q sus triunfos y derrotas.Toda mi fuerza para Tito Vilanova y su familia!!Animo!!este partido tb lo vas a ganar!— Pepe Reina (@PReina25) July 19, 2013
Pepe Reina tweeting: "All my strength to Vilanova and his family! Come on! You will win this game!"— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) July 19, 2013
BarcaStuff provided a picture of Vilanova from the club's training session today.
Barcelona had plenty of success under the guidance of Vilanova. Seeing him step aside with the new campaign on the horizon is a setback for the club, which was a force last season, as the stats illustrate.
115 - Barcelona under Tito Vilanova scored 115 league goals last season, record in the Catalonian team history. Encouragement.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) July 19, 2013
Premier League side Chelsea wished the manager a speedy return to full strength.
Everyone at Chelsea Football Club sends their best wishes to Tito Vilanova for a speedy recovery.— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) July 19, 2013
Even those outside the football world sent wishes Vilanova's way after hearing the news, such as Los Angeles Lakers star and Spanish basketball's Pau Gasol.
Former Barcelona player Marc Crosas expressed his support in hashtag form.
The unfortunate turn of events shocked a lot of people, including James Tyler of ESPN.
Relapse, reportedly. I'm speechless. #AnimsTito— James Tyler (@JamesTylerESPN) July 19, 2013
Some situations rightfully overshadow the sport. This is one of them and plenty of fans expressed their support for Vilanova, like Ferdian Arasy did.
Vilanova is set for a challenge bigger than any Barcelona will face on the pitch this season. The reaction has been that of shock, sadness and hoping for the best from around the football and sporting world.