Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola was born in Santpedor, Spain on the 18th January 1971 and grew up to become a top Spanish international midfielder and one of the best coaches in the world.
Guardiola joined La Masia, Barcelona’s youth academy, at the age of 13 and rose through the ranks before making his senior debut against Cadiz in 1990. In his first week at the academy, the great Johan Cruyff spotted his potential and he was earmarked for a brilliant future.
He secured a regular first team place during the 1991/92 season and was the pivot of the Cruyff-managed dream team that went on to become Spanish league and European champions in the early 1990’s.
In 1992, Guardiola was named the world’s best player under the age of 21 and made his Spanish international debut, in a World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland that finished 0-0. He also captained his country to Olympic gold at the ’92 games in Barcelona.
A pivotal part of the Barcelona midfield, Pep was made captain of the side when Louis Van Gaal took over as manager in 1997. Injuries blighted his career for the next few years, forcing him to miss the 1998 World Cup Finals in France, and he realised his time as a player was nearing an end.
He called time on his 17-year stay at Barcelona and played his last game for them, against Celta Vigo, in June 2001. His career at the Spanish giants saw him play 479 games as an important part of a side that won 16 trophies.
The same year, 2001, Guardiola played his last international match, against Mexico, after earning 47 caps and scoring five goals.
The midfielder decided to move to Italy and signed for Brescia in Serie A, where he played alongside Roberto Baggio. He transferred to Roma after one season but moved back to Brescia for another short stint in 2003.
Whilst in Italy, he tested positive for a banned substance and was suspended for four-months. He would later be cleared of all charges on two separate occasions, but it still had a negative effect on his time in Serie A.
After an unsuccessful stint in Italy where he played a total of just 71 games in three years, Guardiola moved to Al-Ahli in the Qatar Stars League. He had a couple of years there, followed by a six-month stint at Dorados in Mexico before hanging up his boots for good.
Guardiola then moved into a career as a coach, beginning at Barcelona B in 2007. After a successful year, he was named as the replacement for Frank Rijkaard as manager of the senior squad for the 2008/09 season.
He immediately made his mark at the club, offloading several players including Ronaldinho, Deco, Edmilson, Samuel Eto’o and Gianluca Zambrotta. New signings were made to replace the outgoing players and included Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Alexander Hleb and Seydou Keitra. Guardiola also promoted youngsters Sergio Busquets and Pedro from the academy into the first team squad.
The first game for Pep as manager of Barcelona was a 4-0 victory over Wisla Krakow in a Champions League qualifier. The league campaign didn’t start all that well though, with defeat to newly promoted Numancia on the opening day of the season.
Despite that rocky start, a lengthy unbeaten run followed and Barcelona won the league title to achieve a domestic double, after they had already lifted the Copa Del Rey trophy. Beating Manchester United in the Final of the Champions League shortly after, Barcelona became the first Spanish club in history to win a League, Cup and European treble.
At the end of 2009, Guardiola had already won the Spanish League, Copa Del Rey, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup. His seventh trophy as manager came when Barcelona won their 20th La Liga title in 2010 with a record 99 points.
Whilst Barcelona manager, Guardiola received several individual awards for his coaching. He was awarded the Catalan Parliament’s Gold Medal, won the Don Balon Award (three times), the Miguel Munoz Trophy (twice), La Liga Coach of the Year (four times), Onze D’or Coach of the Year (three times), IFFHS World’s Best Club Coach Award (twice), World Soccer Magazine Manager of the Year (twice) and was named FIFA World Coach of the Year in 2011.
He departed Barcelona at the end of the 2011/12 season, after winning 14 trophies in four seasons to become the most successful coach in the club’s history. He finished with a 72.47 winning percentage, with 179 victories from 247 games.
After taking a break from the game for a year, Guardiola returned to management when he replaced Jupp Heynckes at Bayern Munich in time for the 2013/14 season. He started off by leading the team to Victory in the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, before winning their 23rd Bundesliga title. Securing the title with a victory over Hertha on 25th March 2014 made it the earliest the championship had been won in Bundesliga history.
They were beaten by Guardiola’s old club, Barcelona, in the Semi Final of the Champions League and won the DFB-Pokal in extra time to finish off a successful first season in Germany for Guardiola.
His time as Bayern manager came to an end in May 2016, after winning 121 of 161 games in three years. During that stint, he led the club to the Bundesliga title in all three seasons and won the DFB-Pokal twice, as well as the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Guardiola is now set to embark on a new challenge, as he prepares to grace the English Premier League with his presence as head coach at Manchester City for the 2016/17 season. City fans should be excited at the appointment of a manager who has won six domestic league titles in just seven seasons.
Josep Guardiola was an international midfielder that had a huge amount of success as a player and has followed that by becoming perhaps the best manager in the world. At the age of just 45, there should be several years left for the man known as Pep to cement an everlasting legacy in the football world.