Vilanova started his youth career at Barcelona, alongside Pep Guardiola, and eventually went on to make 52 appearances for the B team. He then spent eleven years elsewhere before retiring as a player in 2001.
Vilanova returned to the club in 2007 as assistant coach to Guardiola's Barcelona B. Like Guardiola, Vilanova was promoted in 2008 and became assistant manger of the first team. Under Guardiola's and Vilanova's guidance Barcelona went on to become the strongest force in world football and one of the greatest teams ever to play the game. Numerous trophies were won including La Liga as well as the Champions League.
After Guardiola's departure, Tito took over as head coach in 2012 and regained the league title for Barcelona with a La Liga high record number of points.
Vilanova was first diagnosed with cancer in November 2011. He suffered the illness for a second time in December 2012 which led to him missing a large part of his first season in charge. After six weeks of hemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, Vilanova made a return to the Barcelona bench in March 2013.
Despite a continued fight, Vilanova stepped down as Barcelona coach in the summer of 2013. Stating that the related treatment was not compatible with the status of a professional manager.
In April 2014, Vilanova was rushed to hospital and said to be in a severe condition as the cancer reappeared. Sadly, after a long battle, Vilanova passed away on the 25th of April 2014.
The club issued a short statement:
The FC Barcelona is in immense mourning. Tito Vilanova has died at the age of 45. May he rest in peace.
RIP Tito Vilanova (September 17, 1968 - April 25, 2014)