Photo: "I Will Always Cherish Him" - Messi Says He'll Always Have Repect For Barça Coach Guardiola
After leading his team to 13 titles in for years, FC Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola,41, announced last month that he would be stepping down citing physical and mental stress.
Argentine superstar and Barcelona striker, Lionel Messi was happy to give his coach, a former defensive midfielder himself, a 4-0 win over Espanyol Saturday. Following his fourth goal, Messi ran to the sidelines to give Guardiola a hug, with a number of his teammates following suit.
Messi told reporters after the game that he will forever be indebted to the Barça coach for everything he has done for him in football, saying, “He has been massively important in my career. I am grateful to all of whom I’ve made happy with my goals.”
Messi’s fourth goal Saturday marked his 50th La Liga goal this season, a new Spanish league record.
“Pep will always have my respect,” Messi told Tencent Weibo. “I will always cherish him.”
In September 2011, Guardiola was awarded the Catalan parliaments highest honor, the Gold Medal, and on January 9, 2012, Guardiola was named the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football, receiving 42 percent of the votes.
Following his 97th win in 118 home games, Guardiola told the massive crowd, “Life has given me this gift during the past five years of being able to live with these players and enjoy this spectacle.” He added, “I have been the privileged one, to feel so loved and admired during all these years. Many thanks to all, above all to those who I have worked with every day.”