Vilanova steps down at Barca

Barcelona have confirmed that head coach Tito Vilanova has stepped down with immediate effect due to ill health.

Last Updated: 19/07/13 at 21:42 Post Comment

Tito Vilanova: Leaving Barcelona due to ongoing health concerns

Tito Vilanova: Leaving Barcelona due to ongoing health concerns

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has been forced to step down to focus on his fight against cancer.

The Catalan club confirmed on Friday night that Vilanova would not be able to continue in the role as he continues to receive treatment for the illness.

They plan to unveil a replacement in the coming days.

Vilanova, who replaced Pep Guardiola as coach of Barca last summer, had a tumour removed from his throat in late 2011, but suffered a relapse a year later.

He underwent another operation on his parotid gland in December before beginning a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in New York.

Club president Sandro Rosell announced the news at a press conference, which was held with members of Barcelona's first team in attendance.

He said: "After evaluating the results of the routine follow-up tests, taken by Tito Vilanova this week, he has been presented the option of being able to undergo a treatment to continue managing his illness which will be incompatible with him being the head coach of the first team from now on.

"I want to ask everyone, especially the media, for him and his family, for the utmost respect for the privacy of all in this process which starts from today."

Rosell, who said the club expect to make an announcement on Vilanova's replacement in the coming days, added: "It's a tough blow but Barca have suffered many blows and we've got through them."

Reports in Spain had earlier suggested Joan Francesc Ferrer, known as Rubi, could take over Vilanova in a caretaker capacity.

The 43-year-old joined Barca's coaching staff last month as an assistant to Vilanova and Jordi Roura - who took charge of the first team when Vilanova was absent last season.

Rubi was head coach of Girona last term and led the club to the Segunda Division play-offs, where they lost to Almeria to miss out on a place in the top flight for the first time in their history.

However, there was no mention of Vilanova's possible successort, with Rosell saying: "In next few days the vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta will present the new coach, probably at the start of next week."

Barca, meanwhile, cancelled their training session scheduled for Frida evening and Rosell confirmed they would not now be travelling to Poland for Saturday's pre-season friendly with Lechia Gdansk.

"We've spoken with all the players in the dressing room and we've decided not to go to Poland tomorrow," he said.

Vilanova, 44, was Guardiola's assistant before being promoted to the top job when the record-breaking coach decided to take a one-year sabbatical from the game last year after winning 14 trophies in four seasons.

In his one campaign in charge of the club, Vilanova led Barca to their fourth Primera Division title in five years, becoming only the second team after Real Madrid to reach the 100-point barrier.

They also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and Copa del Rey, but lost to Bayern Munich and Madrid respectively.

The manner of the defeat to Bayern was particularly painful for the Catalan giants as they were thrashed 4-0 in Germany before losing the second leg 3-0 in Spain.

Vilanova missed a number of Barca's matches during the second half of the season as he underwent treatment in America, with Roura taking the team in his stead, but he returned before the end of the campaign.

David Villa, who played under Vilanova last year, paid tribute to his former coach, writing on Twitter: "A big hug for Tito and his family. Lots of strength to continue fighting in this so difficult moment."

Tito Vilanova factfile:

1969: Born September 17 in Bellcaire d'Emporda Girona.

1988: Comes through the Barcelona youth set-up along with fellow midfielder Pep Guardiola, but cannot break into the first team, playing for two years at Barcelona B.

1990: Joins lower-league Figueres.

1992: Moves to Primera Division Celta Vigo, but fails to hold down a first-team place.

1995: Leaves Celta.

2002: Retires from playing after short spells in the lower leagues with Badajoz, Real Mallorca, Lleida, Elche and finally Gramenet.

2007: After working as technical director at Tarrassa, becomes Guardiola's assistant at Barcelona B. The pair help the team to promotion to Segunda Division B.

2008: June - Guardiola takes over as coach of Barcelona and Vilanova comes with him as his assistant. The pair win the league, cup and Champions League in the first season in charge. Two more league titles, another Champions League crown and two Club World Cups follow.

2011: November 22 - Undergoes surgery on his parotid gland in Barcelona and spends three weeks recovering after being discharged.

2012 : April 27 - Appointed as Guardiola's successor as Barcelona coach for next season after Guardiola announces he will not renew his contract.

June 15 - Signs a two-year contract to remain as Barcelona coach.

December 19 - Barcelona announce he would have surgery on the parotid gland for a second time on December 20 and faced approximately six weeks of chemotherapy. A club statement also said he could remain as coach dependent on his recovery during the treatment.

2013: March 26 - After undergoing 10 weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment in New York, he returns to Barcelona. He is expected to take control of his side's league game at Celta Vigo on March 30 but interim coach Jordi Roura remains in charge.

April 6 - Returns to the Nou Camp touchline for the first time in a 5-0 home victory over Real Mallorca.

April 26 - Speaks to the media for the first time since his treatment, saying: "I feel with desire and with strength I want to continue next season."

May 11 - Barcelona clinch their 22nd Primera Division title as rivals Real Madrid are held to a draw by Espanyol.

June 28 - Former Girona coach Joan Francesc Ferrer Sicilia, commonly known as Rubi, is hired as Vilanova's assistant for the 2013-14 season.

July 19 - Barcelona announce Vilanova is stepping down to continue his treatment for cancer.


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