I like many La Liga Blog readers first knew about Tito Vilanova from seeing him take over as Barcelona manager in 2012 although I began getting properly into Spanish football thanks to the Barcelona team run by his predecessor, Pep Guardiola. That team was absolutely brilliant and It’s only since beginning to follow Spanish football properly that I realised just how big a part to play Tito Vilanova had for Barca. So I wanted to thank him for making the beautiful game beautiful once again…
Barcelona to me have always been one of the really big clubs. However for years I always had them on a level just below Man United, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. From my early years of watching football (I began following the game in 1991) to around 2008 I always saw them as Spain’s second team. Real Madrid, no matter how successful a season they had, to me were always the biggest team on the planet. That changed after Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova’s first season.
They played some astonishing football. As a fan and a neutral, Barcelona soon became the team to watch. I never wanted to miss a game during the years Guardiola and Vilanova were at the helm due to the sheer hypnotic football they played. They were brilliant on the attack, well organised and incredibly entertaining. Watching them during those years, I believed I had found a team that I could talk about for many years to come; much like my grandfather who spoke about the great Hungarian side of the 50’s or my Dad who looks back fondly to the 1970 Brazilian world cup winning side.
Over the course of 5 years, 4 with Tito as Pep’s assistant and one with Tito in charge, Barcelona were the team to watch. Tito helped create a side that all the neutrals wanted to watch and create a side that will forever go down in history as one of world football’s truly great sides.
I just want to say thank you to Tito. Thank you for doing what you did. Thank you for the team you built. Thank you for giving me and millions of football fans across the globe, something we can talk about for years to come and giving us a team that will forever be held as the barometer for great footballing teams. You are a legend of the game and may you rest in peace knowing you brought so much to so many fans across the world.
A guest post by Adam Kennedy
Luis Lazaro Tijerina says
Francesc ‘Tito’ Vilanova i Bayó
(For Football Coach Tito Vilanova, FC Barcelona
September 17, 1968-April 25, 2014)
For a season I watched you on the sidelines,
I felt I was on the sideline with you in Barcelona,
The television screen seemed to burst out
with your players with their tactical flourishes—
the Tiki-taka movements like quick sallies
on the grassy, green pitch,
You had that look on your lean Catalan face,
The eagle eye of a great coach for the ages…
Then your untimely death, you so young and brave,
You are my beacon in the beautiful game,
Fútbol is the courageous game—
Your life an immortal shout in the sunlight.
Luis Lázaro Tijerina, Burlington, VT