Created on 06-05-2015 at 11:00 AM
Everything started when he was a ball boy at Camp Nou. Later, as a player, he ran the midfield. Eventually he moulded one of the best football teams in history as a coach. Even though Pep Guardiola is enjoying lots of success with FC Bayern now, he will always be revered in Barcelona of course. “It's wonderful to be back,” the visibly moved 44-year-old admitted in the build-up to the semi-final clash between his FC Bayern and his FC Barcelona (Live in English from 20.45 CET on Twitter and FCB.tv free Web Radio). “Many memories come up, it's very special to me.”
Guardiola joined the FC Barcelona youth academy, La Masia, at the age of thirteen. At 19 the defensive midfielder made his debut in La Liga. Two years later he won the European Cup under coach Johan Cruyff. In the same year he celebrated Olympic gold with Spain – together with Luis Enrique, the current Barça coach. In total the football strategist won 16 titles in 17 years with Barça.
'An important part of my life'
His yield as a coach is even more impressive. In four years he gathered a fabulous 14 titles, two Champions League victories among them. “He’s won everything here. I'm sure it’ll be powerfully emotional for him,” said Xabi Alonso at the press conference on Tuesday evening, where Guardiola commented that he hopes for a “nice reception.”
But the cordiality will stop after that: “I'm not here to pay homage but to do my job and get through to the final with Bayern Munich.” Barcelona has been “an important part” in his life, he agreed, “but I'm here to win!” End of sentence. His team sense that he means it. “The opponent doesn't matter, I believe. Pep is only thinking about how to win the semi-final. He wants to go to Berlin,” said Javi Martínez.
Messi learned 'a great deal' from Pep
Thiago, having played for Barça too, shares this view. “Pep faces each opponent with the same intensity,” the Bayern midfield wizard commented, “but he knows Barça a bit better of course.” Could that be the decisive advantage for the Reds in this clash? Not necessarily, according to Thomas Müller: “He’ll hand out a recipe to us – but the rest has to be done by us, the players.”
No matter how the first leg ends, one thing is certain: it will be an extraordinary evening for Guardiola. “Pep knows all of us very, very well,” commented Lionel Messi, whose star rose under Guardiola. “I’ve learned a great deal from him.” But that's all in the past, Guardiola will be in the Bayern dugout at Camp Nou on Wednesday evening. Would he celebrate wildly if his team scores, he was asked. He didn’t know, but he did say this: “I want to win!”