Tito Vilanova, who was forced to step down as coach of Barcelona on Friday due to his ongoing battle with cancer, wrote an open letter on Friday in which he thanked the club and its fans for the opportunity to coach one of the greatest teams in the world and for sticking by him throughout his illness.
"After five wonderful years as part of a team that has made dreams come true for any coach, it's time to face a change in my professional life and focus my energy on continuing to fight the disease I was diagnosed with a year and a half ago,” Vilanova said. "The doctors recommend that, with the treatments that I must follow from now on, I cannot devote 100 percent to the tasks of head coach as required by FC Barcelona. But I will continue to work closely for the club that I love on other sporting tasks.
“It is not easy to leave this very special group of players, fellow staff and friends with whom I shared many memorable experiences,” he added. “I'll be eternally grateful for everything you have given me and the affection you have shown."
Vilanova was Pep Guardiola’s assistant coach before being promoted to the top job after Guardiola left in June 2012. He led the Catalan giant to the La Liga title last season, earning a record-tying 100 points in his only season in charge.