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Stars wish all best for cancer-stricken Vilanova
Leading names from the sporting world sent their best wishes to Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova on Wednesday after it emerged he faces surgery and weeks of treatment after suffering a cancer relapse.
Vilanova, 44, has led Barcelona to their best league start ever but he must now undergo some six weeks of further care for cancer in his salivary gland, a year on from an operation.
Bitter title rivals Real Madrid issued a statement in support of Vilanova even before official confirmation from Barca that he faced renewed surgery.
"Real Madrid wishes to express all its support, love and affection for Barcelona's coach Tito Vilanova, to whom it wishes a quick recovery. Real Madrid extends this support to his club and all his family."
Real players also put aside traditional rivalry between their side and the "Blaugrana" by sending wishes for a quick recovery.
"Tito, everyone is behind you to beat this - the strength of football and people. It's impossible you will lose this match," Real skipper and Spain international keeper Iker Casillas wrote on his Facebook page.
Real defender Sergio Ramos wrote on online message site Twitter: "All the best to Tito Vilanova and his people - we are all part of the footballing family. A strong and heartfelt hug," wrote Ramos.
Chelsea's Spanish interim coach Rafael Benitez was one of many top names from the footballing fraternity to send his best wishes for a speedy recovery.
"I have just heard about the tough times Tito Vilanova faces once again a year on from his first meeting with the surgeon to deal with his health problems. I would like to pass on all our best wishes and support on my own account and also in the name of all my staff," said former Valencia, Liverpool and Inter Milan coach Benitez.
"Our thoughts are with him," Benitez said on his Twitter feed.
Former Valencia star David Silva, now of Manchester City, also sent a message of support.
"All my support and best wishes for Tito and all those who are battling cancer on a daily basis," said Silva.
Former Barca and England star Gary Lineker sent his own best wishes.
"Very sorry to hear Tito Vilanova, the Barca coach, is undergoing surgery after a cancer relapse. Thoughts are with him," Lineker, now a sports broadcaster for the BBC, tweeted.
Manchester United's former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper David de Gea likewise said: "All my support for Tito Vilanova. We are all with you" in his fight to beat the disease," said De Gea.
Liverpool's Spanish fullback Jose Enrique added his own best wishes for a speedy recovery.
"All best wishes to Tito Vilanova. I hope you get better soon and return to coaching soon to carry on with the super season you have been having," said the former Villarreal defender.
Twitter buzzed with messages from sporting figures outside football, including Spanish tennis champion Rafael Nadal, who tweeted: "All my strength and support to Tito Vilanova. We are with you to overcome this."
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