Bayern next stop for golden boy Guardiola
Pep Guardiola, who quit as Barcelona coach at the end of last season with a record 14 trophies in four years, reappeared in the world of football on Wednesday when he was named next season's coach of Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.
After months of rumours linking the 41-year-old to some of Europe's biggest clubs as well as the Brazilian national job, the Santpedor native will now take over at the Allianz Arena with Jupp Heynckes stepping down.
He first made his name two decades ago as a tenacious midfielder whose tough-tackling and astute reading of the game allowed him to become a key component of Barcelona's first golden generation.
Barca's then-coach Johan Cruyff had assembled a team true to his purist principles and the likes of Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov and Ronald Koeman played with such style that they were christened 'the dream team'.
In May 1992, their football reaped the ultimate reward when Koeman clinched Barca's first European Cup by blasting a superb free-kick past Sampdoria goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca with just nine minutes remaining in extra-time at Wembley.
No one took more joy from the triumph than Guardiola. A Barca fan from his childhood in Santpedo, just an hour's drive from the Catalan capital, he had been nurtured through the youth team and served as a ball boy before Cruyff spotted his potential.
By the time Guardiola returned to the Nou Camp as youth coach, Cruyff was retired but he remained a keen Barca fan and could see his former player had become a guardian of the Dutch 'total football' ethos he brought to the club in the 1990s.
He recommended to president Joan Laporta that Guardiola be installed as Barca manager in 2008 and the appointment proved an inspired move.
Guardiola infused the team with a fluid passing and pressing game that tormented opponents and in his first year they won six titles including La Liga, the Copa del Rey (King's Cup) and the Champions League, where they beat Manchester United 2-0.
Another Champions League title followed in 2011, as well as two more La Liga crowns in 2010 and 2011.
Aided by the development of Argentine forward Lionel Messi from gifted prodigy to the genius of his generation, Guardiola created Barca's second dream team.
"All the coaches I had in my career were important but Cruyff was the most important of all," Guardiola said last year.
But all good things come to an end.
Their shattering exit to Chelsea in the semi-finals of last season's Champions League and Real Madrid's coronation as new Spanish champions left Guardiola heartbroken and his announcement that he was finished came as no surprise.
Tito Vilanova -- himself a former Barca youth player -- was named as his successor but now after a brief hiatus, Guardiola will be back in the spotlight as coach of Bayern Munich, another of Europe's biggest clubs and a team which hasn't won the Champions League since 2001.
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