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Barcelona confirm Vilanova death

25 April 2014 18:24

Barcelona have confirmed the death of former coach Tito Vilanova at the age of 45 following a battle with cancer.

Vilanova – assistant to Pep Guardiola during his successful stint as Barca boss - led the club to the Liga title last season, though his tenure at the club was heavily interrupted by illness.

He was diagnosed with throat cancer for the second time in December 2012 and left Camp Nou after just a season in charge to undergo treatment.

His condition had worsened in recent days, with Spanish media reporting he had been rushed into emergency surgery on Thursday.

And Barca confirmed on Friday that their former coach had lost his battle with the disease.

A statement read: "FC Barcelona regrets to report that Francesc 'Tito' Vilanova i Bayo has left us today, at the age of 45 years.

"The club wishes to express deepest condolences to his family, who shared those moments of pain along with partners, FC Barcelona fans and all of football and sport."

Barca requested that Vilanova's family be shown privacy in their time of mourning, and confirmed that an area of condolence would be opened at Camp Nou in the hours following the announcement.

A midfielder in his playing days, Vilanova progressed through the youth ranks at Barca, though never made an appearance for the first team, subsequently playing for the likes of Celta Vigo and Mallorca.

Moving into off-field roles, he forged a strong partnership with Guardiola as an unprecedented period of Barca success began.

Three La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey triumphs and two UEFA Champions Leagues were secured in a memorable four-year period, and more silverware followed after Guardiola stepped down.

With Vilanova taking over the reins, Barca regained their domestic crown, equalling Real Madrid's record haul of 100 points in the process, despite their coach often being forced from the touchline by his health.

He resigned in July 2013 and was replaced by Argentine Gerardo Martino.

A statement from the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), which expressed condolences to the family and loved ones of Vilanova, proposed holding a minute of silence before this weekend's matches in Spain.

Players have also been asked to wear black armbands in Vilanova's memory.

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