The soccer world is in a state of mourning on Friday as former FC Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova’s battle with throat cancer is over. The Spanish native died at the age of 45 after a three-year battle with the deadly disease, which ultimately led to his resignation from the club last year. He was at his peak when he was forced to step down for further cancer treatment after leading Barcelona to the best finish in La Liga.
Vilanova took over the club as manager when he was promoted from his role as assistant manager to replace Pep Guardiola in the summer of 2012. Directly afterward, Barcelona went 23-4-2 while scoring 100 points in a storybook season that seemed too good to be true.
That was the case, in a way, as Vilanova’s extremely successful tenure was cut short, and now he’ll be remembered as the beloved manager who wanted to give more to the club, but simply couldn’t. Barcelona as an organization and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu have both made statements that reflect the attitude of everyone in the soccer world upon hear the dreadful news of Vilanova’s death, yet none said it better than Bartomeu on Twitter:
Tito Vilanova was a wonderful person, and will never be forgotten at FC Barcelona. Thank you for everything you taught us. Rest in peace
— Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) April 25, 2014