Tito Vilanova Pens Letter to Barca Fans as Messi, Mourinho, Iniesta Add Support

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterJuly 21, 2013

It could not have been the easiest thing for Tito Vilanova to compose, but his open letter to the Barcelona supporters reveals a passion for the club that we all hope will help his battle against illness.

Vilanova stepped down as Camp Nou coach last week as he continues his treatment for throat cancer, as Sid Lowe of The Guardian reported.

After announcing his decision to leave, the 44-year-old posted an open letter to the Barcelona supporters on the club's official website, FCBarcelona.com.

Vilanova succeeded Pep Guardiola at the end of the 2011-12 La Liga season when the former Barca coach resigned after four years at the helm of the La Liga giants.

However, in December, Vilanova stepped down while he underwent surgery and chemotherapy before returning to the Barcelona dugout in March.

After his return, Barcelona regained the La Liga title from Real Madrid but were beaten in the Champions League semifinals by Bayern Munich.

However, the cancer has returned, and Vilanova told the Barcelona supporters that he cannot give his all to the role while he continues to battle the illness.

The treatments that I am going to have to undergo from now on does not make it recommendable, in the doctors’ opinion, for me to dedicate one hundred percent of my effort to being the first team manager of a team as demanding as FC Barcelona, but I shall be staying close by and will be continuing to work for the club that I love so much in other jobs in the sports area.

Vilanova began his footballing career through the famous La Masia academy at Barcelona, but unlike his friend Guardiola, he could not break into the senior team.

He moved on to UE Figueres in 1990 before returning to the Spanish top flight with Celta da Vigo in 1992, where he spent three seasons.

Vilanova became the first player to score against a team managed by Jose Mourinho, when he found the net for Lleida in a Copa Catalunya tie where the Chelsea boss had stood in for Barcelona coach Louis Van Gaal for the tournament.

He began his managerial career with FC Palafrugell in 2003 and linked up with Guardiola as his assistant for Barcelona B.

The pair were appointed as the Barca managerial team in 2008 to replace Frank Rijkaard and Johan Neeskens.

Guardiola and Vilanova guided the team to 14 trophies, including two Champions League titles and three La Liga championships.

Vilanova outlined his love for Barcelona and the supporters in his open letter.

To you, the Barça members and supporters, I also want to say thank you for all the shows of support and affection that you have sent me, not just now but all these last months.

I can tell you that that I feel calm and strong, and I am facing this new stage of the process in the full confidence that it will all go well.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi gave a heartfelt message to Vilanova, as The Guardian reported, along with Camp Nou teammate Andres Iniesta.

Even Vilanova's long-term adversary Mourinho ensured the official Chelsea Twitter page carried a message of support.

Mourinho, infamously, poked Vilanova in the eye during a match between Barcelona and Real Madrid in 2011, as Richard Hartley-Parkinson of the Daily Mail reported.

Vilanova has requested privacy during his battle with illness, but the football world will remain focused on its support for the former Barcelona head coach.


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