Who is Pep Guardiola?

El Pais has a fascinating article (it is in Spanish) about Barca’s manager.
He is obsessive, intelligent, passionate, a legend in a legendary city.
His impeccable sartorial style comes from his companion, Cristina Serra, whose family runs a well known boutique. She has cultivated the couple’s interest in photography, travel, and reading.
His mother shows a photo of a small boy who was declared the best player in a football tournament but cried when he received his trophy because he had missed a penalty.
That was in 1986. Guardiola went onto win 18 honours with Barcelona as a player, including 6 La Liga titles and a CL championship. By that time he established himself as one of the most important players in Johan Cruyff’s dream team. A legend in Camp Nou. Injuries cut his Barca days short and he left in 2001 for a brief stint with Brecia and AS Roma.
By all accounts it was a disaster, with very few appearances because of injuries, and worse still, testing positive for nandrolone. It led to a four month ban. In a measure of his obsessive personality, Guardiola fought to clear his name with a single mindedness for 6 years till the charges were finally dropped in 2007.
Xavi, a Barca product talks about how Guardiola’s playing style influenced his own: He was the most mentally agile player in the Barca team. He would see the play before it had developed. “It seemed he had an eye on back of the neck, all the while turning the head, as if it had mirrors.”
As a manager, Xavi says that Guardiola has little idea of how intensely he lives and breathes the game. “Es un enfermo del fĂștbol.” Yet strangely, this intensity does not make him a despot as he remains first and foremost a friend to all his players. Football is a fast game and it needs clarity of communication. Guardiola has proved himself a very effective communicator. His success with Barca’s B team leading them out of the third tier to the second within a year of joining up convinced Txiki Beguiristain, the sports director and Joan Laporta, the club president to appoint him as successor to Frank Rijkaard in 2008. He now lies at the gates of attaining a treble.
He has Barca in his marrow. A product of La Masia, Barca’s youth training facility that shaped the careers of Carlos Puyol, Victor Valdez, Leo Messi and Andres Iniesta, who form the fulcrum of the club’s success. An iconic figure to all the children from his neighborhood of Santpedor, who aspire to be the next number four. Guardiola’s number.
Guardiola, Celades, Milla: All quality holding midfielders, a unique Barcelona tradition passed down to the present team; to Xavi, Iniesta (who started as one), and Busquets.

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