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Getting To Know: Pep Guardiola

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Full name: Josep Guardiola Sala
Position: Manager/Coach
Date of birth: 18 January 1971
Place of birth: Sanpedor, Spain
Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight: 76 kg (168 lbs)

Josep "Pep" Guardiola was born in the Catalan town of Santpedor, merely 70km north of Barcelona. He started playing football for Gimnàstic Manresa, but quickly, at the age of 13, he joined La Masia. Pep rose through the youth ranks for six years, playing at the right side of the midfield.

Guardiola joined Barcelona B at the beginning of the 1990-91 season, the same season he made his debut for the first team against Cádiz under coach Johan Cruyff. It was the Dutch manager that turned Pep into one of the best defensive midfielders of his era. Guardiola's stay with the B team wasn't long, but by the time he became a first team regular he made 59 appearances scoring five goals.

Guardiola not only became a regular for Cruyff's Dream Team, he became a key player. Pep was one of the most used players in every season he played for Barcelona, except a couple season during which he struggled with injuries. He was a commanding presence in midfield and terrific at recovering the ball.

In 2001 his contract ran out and after 17 years in the organization Pep announced he's leaving the club. With the number 4 on his shirt Guardiola had a brilliant Barcelona career; he is a club legend and the man who revolutionized the holding midfielder position. Guardiola's Barça career ended with 384 first team appearances and 11 goals scored.

Guardiola continued his career in the Seria A in Italy, where he played for Brescia Calcio and AS Roma. But his stay in Italy wasn't very successful. In two years Pep played 29 games and scored one goal for Brescia and only eight games, while scoring one goal, for Roma. His stay in Italy ended with a four month ban.

Guardiola continued his playing career in Qatar with Al-Ahli. He became a regular for the Doha based side and had two successful seasons. Pep appeared in 36 games for the club and managed to get on the scoreboard on seven occasions.

After his sting in Qatar he rejected a number of offers from European giants. Instead he signed with Dorados de Sinaloa of the Mexican Primera División. After six months, 20 games and two goals Pep Guardiola retired.

Guardiola also had an illustrious international career with La Furia Roja. He was well known in the international stage even before he made his senior debut, on 14 October 1992 against Northern Ireland, as he was a regular member of Spain's Under-Age teams. Pep quickly became the centerpiece that made the national team run like clockwork. He ended his international career at 47 senior team appearances and 5 goals scored.

After one year away from football, Pep was offered the coaching job of the recently relegated Barcelona B team, which he accepted. It was immediately noticeable he has all the attributes a great manager needs, including high work rate and winning mentality. His team ended the season in first place and won the promotion to Segunda División B.

Guardiola took over management of Barcelona's first team, from Frank Rijkaard, at the beginning of the 2008-09 season. Pep made a mark on the squad as he offloaded several players and replaced them with players that fit his offensive, tiki-taka, brand of football. At first things didn't go as planed as his team lost the opening game against the newly promoted CD Numancia.

But Guardiola's Barcelona soon started firing on all cylinders and at the end of the season he celebrated the famous treble. A treble that with win three more trophies in the same year became a sextuple, a feat that no other coach had ever accomplished. His next two seasons weren't as successful, but he managed to lift at least one trophy in every single one.

With one game left in the 2010/11 season, his third as a Barcelona coach, Pep has led Barcelona in 179 games. 130 of them ended in a Blaugrana win, while another 32 resulted in a draw. That means, in three years, Barcelona only lost 17 games with Guardiola at the helm, resulting in a 72.63 win percentage.

Pep Guardiola is already one of the greatest managers in the world. He is a great man-manager and he has been praised for his personal approach during training. Pep always employs a 4-3-3 formation, but on the (rare) occasion the formation doesn't work, he struggles to adapt. Despite winning every possible trophy on the club level, he is relatively inexperienced, which shows especially when Barcelona need to change their approach.

As a player

  • FC Barcelona

    • La Liga (6): 1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1997-98, 1998-99

    • Copa del Rey (2): 1996-97, 1997-98

    • Supercopa de España (4): 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996

    • European Cup (1): 1991-92

    • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (1): 1996-97

    • UEFA Super Cup (2): 1992, 1997

  • Spain

    • Olympic Gold Medal (1): 1992

  • Individual

    • Bravo Award (1) 1992

    • UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament (2): 1992, 2000

    • Olympic Spain Best Player (1): 1992

As a manager

  • Barcelona B

    • Tercera División (1): 2007-08

  • FC Barcelona

    • La Liga (3): 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11

    • Copa del Rey (1): 2008-09

    • Supercopa de España (2): 2009, 2010

    • UEFA Champions League (1): 2008-09

    • UEFA Super Cup (1): 2009

    • FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2009

  • Individual

    • IFFHS World's Best Club Coach of the Year (1): 2009

    • Don Balon Award (2): 2009, 2010

    • Onze d'Or (1): 2009

    • Miguel Muñoz Trophy (2): 2009, 2010

    • World Soccer Magazine World Manager of the Year (1): 2009

    • UEFA Team of the Year Best Coach (1): 2009

    • LFP Coach of the Year (1): 2009

    • Catalan of the Year Award (1): 2009

Pep announced he prefers a rolling contract, meaning he has to extend his current contract every season. His current deal keeps him in Barcelona until 2012, but what will happen after that is anyone's guess.

Next up: The man that helps Guardiola with the management of the team, Francesc "Tito" Vilanova.

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