In sweeter times: Tito Vilanova and Pep Guardiola together at Barcelona (Getty Images)
BERLIN, April 26: Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola on Saturday expressed his grief over the death of Tito Vilanova, his former assistant at Barcelona, saying his sadness will remain for the rest of his life.
“We were friends. My heart is with his parents, his wife and his children. The sadness will stay with me forever,” said Guardiola after Vilanova died on Friday following a long battle with cancer aged 45.
There was a minute’s silence before Bayern’s 5-2 win over Werder Bremen on Saturday at Munich’s Allianz Arena while the home players wore black armbands.
Vilanova was Guardiola’s right-hand man in one of the most successful periods in Barcelona’s history when the Catalans won 14 trophies in four years under their former captain, including two Champions Leagues, between 2008 and 2012.
When Guardiola stepped down at the end of the 2011/12 season to take a year’s sabbatical in New York before joining Bayern Munich, Vilanova was promoted to replace him.
But his only season in charge was disrupted by health problems as he had to spend two months in New York receiving chemotherapy treatment.
He returned to the job in time to see Barca seal their 22nd La Liga title with a record 100 points tally.
However, he was eventually forced to step down just two weeks before the start of the current campaign due to his ongoing health problems having been first diagnosed with cancer of the salivary gland over two years ago.