Bayern Munich wore black armbands and held a minute of silence for Tito Vilanova before their Bundesliga match against Werder Bremen. Vilanova's longtime friend and his partner in success for four years at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola, was on the bench for Bayern's 5-2 win, but he was understandably in no mood to celebrate his team's victory.
After the match, Guardiola expressed his overwhelming sorrow.
"It was difficult for me to follow the match today, Tito was more than a friend," he said, according to Goal.com. "The sadness I feel will accompany me for the rest of my life. We were young, we wanted to beat the world, and we did."
Guardiola and Vilanova were so close and so in sync with each other that they often mirrored each others' actions while they were working together (see video below). But when they went their separate ways in 2012, with Vilanova taking charge at Barca and Guardiola moving to New York for a year-long sabbatical before eventually moving to Munich, the two friends grew distant. Guardiola accused Barcelona executives of using Vilanova's illness "to cause [him] damage" when they said that Pep refused to visit Vilanova while he was receiving treatment for his throat cancer in New York while he was living there.
In July 2013, Vilanova himself went public with his own disappointment in the situation. From the Guardian:
"People aren't interested in personal matters, but Pep got it wrong and I'm surprised by his comments," Vilanova told AS. "No one on the board used my illness to attack him. The club tried to help me as much as possible.
"He visited me once in New York when I'd just arrived, but during my recovery from the operation I was there for two months and I didn't see him. He's my friend and I needed him, but he wasn't there for me. I would have done things differently. I won't say anything else about this."
Asked if problems between them had arisen because Vilanova had been made coach, he said: "I talked to him and told him what I intended to do. It was him who encouraged me to become Barça coach. I've known him for 28 years. He's my friend. I've won titles with him and we had amazing times together."
It's unclear if the two were able to find peace in their relationship before Vilanova passed on Friday, but it's obvious that the thoughts and emotions going through Guardiola's mind go far beyond mere football right now.
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