Josep 'Pep' Guardiola

FC Barcelona Footballer, Coach and Legend

Josep Guardiola, better known as Pep, came to fame as an FC Barcelona footballer throughout the Dream Team period and later coached the first team during one of the club's most brilliant and successful periods. He currently coaches Manchester City.

Josep Guardiola i Sala was born in Santpedor in the comarca of El Bages on January 18th 1971 and after playing for Club Gimnàstic de Manresa, entered the FC Barcelona youth system, known as La Masia, at the age of thirteen.

He is considered one of FC Barcelona's all time best midfield players, particularly due to his role in Johan Cruyff's Dream Team of the 1990s.

From the position of defensive midfielder, Guardiola, with his superb technique, organised the team, distributed play and controlled the rhythm of matches. Cruyff described Guardiola as his "eyes and ears on the pitch".

After ending his playing career with other clubs, Pep Guardiola returned to Camp Nou to coach the FC Barcelona B team in 2007 and took over the first team a year later.

He won the historic triple of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League in his first season as head coach and went on to make 2009 the most successful year in FC Barcelona's history by winning the Spanish Super Cup, the European Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, making a total of six trophies in a single calendar year.

In 2011, Pep Guardiola was awarded the Medal of Honour of the Parliament of Catalonia for "success achieved as a coach and for transmitting sportsmanship, teamwork, effort and personal growth". 

He has expressed his support for Catalan independence on many occasions and is a member of the Catalan National Assembly and Òmnium Cultural and closed the pro-independence list for Junts pel Sí in Barcelona in the elections to the Parliament of Catalonia in September 2015.


A Brief Biography of Pep Guardiola

Born in Santpedor on January 18th 1971, Josep Guardiola is the third son of Valentí Guardiola and Dolors Sala and his footballing talents were soon noted at his school, La Salle in Manresa.

He began playing for Club Gimnàstic de Manresa and joined FC Barcelona's Masia youth system on June 28th 1984 at the age of thirteen.

At La Masia, Guardiola was coached by Oriol Tort and Quique Costas amongst others and made close friends, such as Tito Vilanova, who would later be his Number Two as coach at FC Barcelona.

Josep Guardiola made his first team debut on December 16th 1990 against Cádiz and went on to play three more matches for Johan Cruyff's Dream Team in the 1990-91 season.

From the start of the 1991-92 season onward, Cruyff gave the young Pep the deep-lying play-making role on the FC Barcelona first team and he was immediately a great success. 

Barça not only won their second consecutive Liga but also their very first European Cup against Sampdoria at Wembley and Guardiola famously shouted "Citizens of Catalonia, we got it here now!" from the balcony of the Palau de la Generalitat during the European Cup celebrations.

Pep finished a great season by winning the Gold medal with the Spanish football team in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and the prestigious Italian sports magazine Guerin Sportivo gave him the Bravo Award '92 as the best European under-21 player of the year.

From this point on, Guardiola became a key player at FC Barcelona not only because of his footballing ability on the pitch but also because his expressions of Catalan identity and his obvious intelligence.

The Dream Team went on two win two more Ligas but things began to fall apart after the 4-0 defeat by AC Milan in the Champions League final of 1994 and Johan Cruyff left the club at the end of the 1995-96 season.

By the time, Louis Van Gaal arrived, Guardiola was team captain and although the side won two Ligas in 1998 and 1999, the period wasn't particularly inspiring in footballing terms.

Guardiola underwent two major operations in 1998 and 2000, which kept him off the field for lengthy periods, and after a disappointing few seasons, Pep Guardiola played his last game for FC Barcelona against Celta in the Copa del Rey on June 24th 2001.

He had played for the first team for 11 seasons winning 16 titles ((6 Ligas, 2 Copas del Rey, 4 Spanish Super Cup, 1 European Cup, 1 European Cup Winners' Cup i 2 European Super Cups) playing 387 games (229 wins, 88 draws and 70 losses) and scoring 11 goals.

Pep Guardiola went on to play with Italian clubs Brescia Calcio and AS Roma and later Al-Ahli Doha and finally ended his playing career with the Mexican Dorados de Sinaloa in 2006.

Having obtained his coach licence, at the start of the 2007-08 season, Guardiola took over coaching duties of FC Barcelona B, who had just been relegated to Tercera División (Regional Fourth Division).

The season was an incredible success and the side was promoted to Segunda B. As a result, in 2008, FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta gave Guardiola the reins of the first team following the departure of Frank Rijkaard.

The season began terribly for Guardiola with a defeat and a draw but once the team got into gear they were unstoppable and went on to win La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League with a 2-6 thrashing of Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabéu included.

The gorgeous playing style of the team and Guardiola's creative motivational techniques were soon capturing the public imagination. 

The video he famously showed to the team before the Champions League final mixed footage of the players in action, scenes from the film Gladiator, music from the opera Turandot and closed with the words "We are the midfield, we are our precision, we are our effort, we are attackers who defend, we are defenders who attack, we are the recognition of our rivals, we are every goal we score, we are the ones who are always looking towards the opposing goal. WE ARE ONE!" 

In the close season Guardiola sold Samuel Eto'o and brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who never clicked with the team, but even so FC Barcelona went onto win the Spanish Super Cup, the European Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, which made a total of 6 out of 6 possible trophies in the 2009 calendar year.

At the start of the 2010-11 season Jose Mourinho arrived in Spain as head coach of Real Madrid and one of the great footballing rivalries began. Guardiola definitely got the best of the first season winning La Liga with a 5-0 thrashing of Real Madrid included, the Spanish Super Cup and a second Champions League against Manchester United after having knocked Real Madrid in the semi-finals.

In January 2012, FIFA gave Guardiola the Best Coach of 2011 award in part for being the youngest coach to have won two Champions Leagues but the 2011-2012 season as a whole wasn't as brilliant as the previous ones.

On April 27th 2012, Pep Guardiola announced that he would not be continuing as FC Barcelona head coach due to "lack of motivation and tiredness" but many supporters suspected that the cause was his poor relationship with new FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell.

On May 5th 2012, Pep directed his last match at Camp Nou beating Espanyol 4-0 and receiving the appropriate homages and on May 25th FC Barcelona played its last game under his direction in the final of the Copa del Rey 2011-12, in which Barça beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0.

Since leaving Camp Nou, Josep Guardiola has gone on to coach Bayern Munich and then Manchester City but has not had the same level of success as with FC Barcelona, where he remains a hero both as a player and a coach.

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