Following a glittering four-year spell at the helm Josep Guardiola has announced his decision to leave his post as coach of FC Barcelona at the end of the season, when he will be replaced by his assistant Tito Vilanova.
Three days after his side were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals by Chelsea FC, Guardiola revealed that he would not be renewing his rolling contract with the Camp Nou outfit and is to take a break from football – a decision he disclosed to the club's president, Sandro Rossell, on Thursday.
"These past four years have emptied my reservoirs and now I need to fill them again," said Guardiola in a press conference attended by both journalists and some of his leading players. "That is the fundamental reason that I have announced my era here has finished. A coach needs to have passion and energy with which to infuse his players so that they can approach matches full of enthusiasm.
"This is what I need to recover and I will only get that back by resting. I am truly satisfied with what we have achieved and above all by the way we have achieved it. I would like to thank my players for the privilege it has been to coach them and for helping me to enjoy this job. They made me very happy game after game.
The 41-year-old former Barcelona captain was something of a surprise choice when he was promoted from his position as coach of the club's B team to replace Frank Rijkaard in summer 2008, but his arrival ushered in a period of unprecedented success for the Azulgrana.
Under Guardiola, Barça won three successive Liga titles, lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy in 2009 and 2011 and twice claimed both the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, all the while playing a brand of free-flowing, passing football that earned global admiration.
During his spell in charge, the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta became widely regarded as three of the best players in the world, with Messi claiming three successive FIFA Ballon d'Or awards.
"There is no better thing for me to leave with the feeling of a job well done, and I say that after we have just lost two titles," added Guardiola. "I am leaving at peace with myself."
Though Barcelona will not defend their European crown this campaign and lie seven points adrift of Real Madrid CF in the Liga with four rounds remaining, the Blaugrana remain on course to win the second Copa del Rey of Guardiola's tenure. Barcelona will meet UEFA Europa League finalists Athletic Club at the Vicente Calderón on 25 May.
The Liga club have elected to retain their policy of recruiting from within by opting for Vilanova as the permanent replacement for Guardiola. The 42-year-old has been Guardiola's trusted assistant coach throughout his reign at the club, including his initial campaign with Barcelona B in the 2007/08 season, and is known to be a popular figure among the players.
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