Photo: Tito Vilanova (Miguel Ruiz)
Tito Vilanova has resigned as coach of FC Barcelona to continue treatment for the throat cancer he has battled for the past 18 months, club president Sandro Rosell said Friday during a hastily arranged press conference at the team’s practice facility.
“I’m here to tell you some news I wish I’d never have to report,” Rosell said before reading a statement about Vilanova’s health.
“After evaluating the results of routine follow-up tests conducted this week on Tito Vilanova, the possibility arose of his undergoing treatment to continue controlling his illness, which is incompatible with being the coach of the first team,” the Barça boss said.
Accompanied by sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and several board members, the 15 first-team players currently at the club’s practice facility in Sant Joan Despi, the entire coaching staff and Vilanova’s agent, Josep Maria Orobitg, an emotional Rosell did not take any questions from reporters.
“Life goes on. It’s a very heavy blow for Barça, but Barcelona has suffered many blows and has always recovered. This will not be the exception,” the club president said.
Vilanova’s replacement will be announced next week, Rosell said.
The news that Vilanova, who underwent his first surgery for throat cancer in November 2011, had suffered a further relapse prompted Barcelona to postpone the team’s first pre-season match, an away friendly against Lechia Gdansk.
“We met with all the players in the locker room and we decided not to travel tomorrow to Poland. No one is in the mood to (make the trip),” Rosell said.
Vilanova was the team’s assistant coach for four seasons before replacing his mentor, Pep Guardiola, in 2012 on a two-year deal and guiding the club to its 22nd Spanish-league title.