“If you’re strong and you have desire, we will wait for you, as long as it takes.” These are the words that Tito Vilanova told Eric Abidal of FC Barcelona when he was being treated for cancer after having a liver transplant, but as it seems to be an act of fate, in April 2012 Abidal went for a surgery and in November 2012 relapse of Vilanova’s cancer was announced.
He started his career as FC Barcelona’s B team and never made it to team A. But that never stopped him to meet his destiny. Rather than playing, in 2002, he started coaching FC Barcelona’s Cadete B, a team of 13 year olds that included Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi. Later in 2007 when Pep Guardiola became coach of Barcelona’s B team, he immediately called Vilanova to be his assistant coach and that year they won Spain’s Second division league title and went ahead to become coach and assistant coach of FC Barcelona’s first team.
He was yet another example of a man championing patience, resilience and fostering his hunger for excellence. It is said that if Pep Guardiola was the face of club then Tito was the brain behind him. It was his experience and knowledge of catalan style football that helped Pep to build a team that won treble of La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the Champions League in 2009. Today when we see people boasting themselves after returning from cancer, he just didn’t made a return, but proved a point that he returned for better. He coached his team for 2012-13 season sometimes from his bed in hospital only to make them Spanish champions that year.
It was his passion for game that gave him the will to pursue his dreams of becoming the best among the best. He proved cancer may eat up your body, but no disease in the world can eat up soul unless you allow it to do so.
RIP Tito Vilanova