The most successful coach in the history of FC Barcelona has announced that he will head for the exit door come the end of this season. During his short but historic reign, the team’s displays under Pep Guardiola have earned them respect and admiration across the world.
What's more, though he first came to prominence as the masterful midfield organiser of Johan Cruyff’s 1990s Dream Team, his achievements as Barça coach have surpassed even those of his mentor. Victorious in no fewer than 13 competitions since he took the helm, El Pep Team are now the club's new benchmark in terms of silverware, success and style of play.
FIFA.com takes a look back at Guardiola’s time in charge of Los Azulgrana, picking out a number of the most memorable moments.
17 June 2008: Guardiola is officially unveiled as the head coach of Barcelona, thus replacing the Dutchman Frank Rijkaard. The new supremo’s only previous experience in the dugout was his 361 days in charge of Barcelona B, who he guided to promotion into Spain’s Segunda Division B.
19 December 2009: Barça down Argentina’s Estudiantes de La Plata in extra time to win the final of the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi. Lionel Messi’s 110th-minute clincher meant that the Catalan giants had won six from a possible six trophies in Guardiola’s first 18 months at the helm. Overcome with emotion, the coach could not help but shed a tear during the celebrations out on the pitch of Zayed Sports City.
26 April 2011: Deep in the midst of a marathon series of clásicos against Real Madrid, spanning the Copa del Rey and the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, the heightened tension and intense media hype caused even Guardiola to lose his habitual cool. “In this press conference room he’s the boss, he’s the master. Off the pitch he’s won everything all year, I award him his own personal Champions League for that (...) I don’t want to compete with him another moment here in this room,” he said, on his Real counterpart Jose Mourinho, in arguably his most controversial outburst as Barça coach.
20 April 2011: Barcelona are beaten by Los Blancos in the final of the Copa del Rey, with Cristiano Ronaldo heading home the only goal of the game. It was, to date, the only defeat Los Azulgrana have suffered in a final during Guardiola’s reign. “Congratulations must go to Madrid, but I’m very happy with the way our fans behaved and how we played,” he said after the reverse. “Now we’ll have to pick ourselves up again.”
28 May 2011: Guardiola becomes the youngest coach to win the UEFA Champions League on two occasions, after the then 40-year-old supremo’s Barça side put in a splendid display to sink Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley. “In my time as a manager, it’s the best team we’ve faced,” said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson afterwards. “Everyone acknowledges that and I accept that. It’s not easy when you’ve been well beaten like that to think any other way. No one has given us a hiding like that. It’s a great moment for them. They deserve it because they play the right way and enjoy their football.”
9 January 2012: At the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala, Guardiola wins the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award for the first time on the back of another incredible year, which featured victory in five of six competitions entered. “This is a great source of joy, but you don’t become a player or a coach to win awards,” he exclusively told FIFA.com at the event. “You do so to enjoy the game, to put a certain philosophy into practice and work with the players.”
27 April 2012: Barcelona’s most successful coach tells his players that he will leave the club at the end of this season, having won no fewer than 13 trophies in his nearly four-year tenure. Guardiola could yet add another piece of silverware to that tally come 25 May’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao, with a triumph making it 14 from a possible 19 titles won. Guardiola’s legacy also goes far beyond trophies, with the coach giving first-team debuts to 22 youth products of Barça’s fabled cantera, compared to just 14 signings from elsewhere.