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Barcelona bids final farewell to Tito Vilanova

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Barcelona bids final farewell to Tito Vilanova
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Barcelona bids final farewell to Tito Vilanova

Friends, family, former colleagues and key figures from the world of football joined together at Barcelona's cathedral on Monday evening to bid a final farewell to Tito Vilanova.

The ex-Barca boss lost his two-and-a-half year battle with cancer Friday at the age of 45 and some 53,000 fans turned out at Camp Nou over the weekend to pay respects to the Catalan coach, many of them leaving flowers and messages.

Many more well-wishers and fans flocked to the center of Barcelona on Monday, where a ceremony was broadcast on two giant screens outside the cathedral.

Inside, Barcelona's board, past presidents, current coaching staff and the entire first-team squad were present, along with Catalan leader Artur Mas and other prominent personalities from the world of football, such as former Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes and Espanyol trainer Javier Aguirre.

"Today is a very sad day for FC Barcelona," said club president Josep Maria Bartomeu in his speech. "We promise that he will remain deep in our hearts and that we'll never forget him."

Jordi Roura, one of Vilanova's best friends, also addressed the congregation. "You always said you were a normal guy, but in the end you weren't. A normal person doesn't receive all this [affection and love]," he said, in reference to the huge outpouring of support for Tito.

"And don't worry about your children," he added. "We will take good care of them."

At the end of the ceremony, Carlota (19) and Adria (17) then took to the stage and each made a beautiful speech in honor of their father.

"Our father was our hero, he was the example we followed, and he was my first love," Carlota said. "Love that I felt when I didn't even know what love was.

"Nothing fell out of the sky for my father. His passion for football, his hard work and his dedication allowed him to achieve his dream of coaching Barca, the team that has always been in his heart.

Adria, a promising defender in Barca's youth team, added: "I'm so grateful for everything you taught me. The best present you gave me was 17 years by my side. I'll dedicate all my successes to you and your memory will help me to overcome difficulties. You will be my guardian angel."

The pair left stage to huge applause and the ceremony ended with a cry of "Visca Tito Vilanova" from one of the guests, which was repeated by a large number of those present.

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