Those who have followed Guardiola’s career closely would argue that he has always had the mindset of a leader. By installing the 20-year-old midfielder in his starting XI back in 1991, Johan Cruyff was among the first to pick up on his will to win, vision and charisma.
Captain of the Blaugrana ‘dream team’ of the 1990s, the Spaniard lifted almost every available trophy in 11 seasons as a player at Camp Nou, making 374 appearances for the side along the way. Since taking the coaching reins, Guardiola has proved himself to be a worthy heir to his mentor, club legend Carles Rexach.
Moving to the bench seemed like the obvious next career move for Guardiola and, six months after retiring from playing, he was duly appointed coach of Barcelona’s reserve side in June 2007. There he played a major part in the development of players such as Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi, who would all go on to become major stars at the club.
On 8 May 2008, he replaced Frank Rijkaard at the helm of the Catalan giants’ senior side. Success would follow quickly, and in 2009 Guardiola led his charges to a historic six trophies within the same calendar year.
Cultured, dignified and respectful to opponents, he is also known as a fearsome disciplinarian. He values effort, ambition and hard work, and has little time for individuals not prepared to give their all for the team. In a matter of months, he has won over fans and media alike with a breathless brand of football founded on impeccable ball skills, speed, teamwork and enjoyment of the game.
Highlights in 2010
It was always going to be difficult to scale the heights of 2009, but 2010 can still be regarded as a successful year for Guardiola and Barcelona, with a La Liga title and Spanish Super Cup added to the trophy cabinet, as well as the recent 5-0 drubbing of great rivals Real Madrid.
Himself a graduate of the Barcelona cantera (youth academy), Guardiola is a firm advocate of bringing young players through the ranks. In the match against Real at the end of November, the starting line-up contained eight players who had originally emerged from the club’s youth set-up.
Guardiola's cultured approach to the game, with its focus on one-touch football and the continual recycling of possession, has become his hallmark as a coach. With eight titles to his name in less than two seasons, Guardiola, the youngest coach in the history of the game to have guided a team to UEFA Champions League glory, has his sights firmly set on the 11 acquired by Cruyff two decades ago.
2010 in words
"The responsibility is mine and mine alone. The players work hard. They put in non-stop effort and always give everything. My role consists solely of knowing what I have to do in order to give them what they need."
On the impending Champions League semi-final in April 2010 against Inter Milan.
"We always set out to play well and win all of our matches. Now, let‘s step back and enjoy what we’ve done. It would be unnatural not to take pleasure in the victory, because matches like that one don’t come along very often."
On his side’s 5-0 win over Real Madrid on 29 November 2010.