Former Barcelona Manager Tito Vilanova Dead At 45

FC Barcelona has just announced that former manager Tito Vilanova passed today following a two-and-half-year battle with throat cancer. He was 45 years old.

Vilanova was diagnosed with parotid gland cancer in November 2011. He underwent treatment, but in December 2012, the club announced that he had relapsed. He was rushed into emergency surgery yesterday, reportedly in grave condition.

Vilanova is best known for managing Barcelona from June 2012 to July 2013, when he guided the club to a La Liga title, but his roots with the club ran deep. Vilanova played for Barcelona as youth from 1984 to 1988 before featuring on Barcelona B for another two years as a professional. After managing Spanish side FC Palafrugell from 2003 to 2004, Vilanova returned to his boyhood club in 2007, when he was hired as an assistant manager under Pep Guardiola on Barcelona B. In the summer of 2008, the pair moved up to the senior team together when Guardiola was named manager.

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Led by Guardiola and Vilanova, Barcelona then went on a four-year romp through world soccer, winning 14 titles between 2008 and 2012, completely revolutionizing the sport, and garnering a reputation as perhaps the greatest team in history. In the summer of 2012, Guardiola left the squad, and Vilanova was promoted to manager. He stepped down a year later due to his health.

Said Barcelona: "The FC Barcelona is in immense mourning. Tito Vilanova has died at the age of 45. May he rest in peace."