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Tito Vilanova, 'in memoriam'

AS AS 26/04/2014 Alfredo Relaño

A good few years ago, expurgating images for 'Lo que el ojo no ve' ('What the eye doesn't see') for 'El Día Después’, Vispe showed me a few guys that had caught his attention. Mallorca's subs were warming up, and were at the time managed by Víctor Muñoz. They ran up and down, but didn't get on. You could see they were burnt in their faces, but there was one who had a look of steely determination, and that really caught our eye. I don't remember if we actually used the image, but we both kept the memory. Sometime later, Vispe said to me: Have you seen Guardiola's number two? - Of course - Well he was that Mallorca substitute...

Between that image and the last one shown of him on the television, consumed, in a distant gaze that respected his physical decline, there is an intense and short footballing life that reminds us that we are all on borrowed time. Tito Vilanova was a Barça youth player, just like Guardiola. A lack of talent, or necessary luck, meant that his playing career was nothing special. But he felt and knew the game, so much so that his friend from La Masia had him by his side in his first steps, and the next ones, as a manager. They were a couple. Together they constructed a beautiful, winning side, a gift for everyone.

Between that first image and the last, there are a many, similar ones: Guardiola and Tito discussing doubts and decisions. Someone even told me 'it amounts so, so it amounts'. When Guardiola left, Tito took his position, and apart from some ambiguities, nobody thought it was a bad idea. Finally Tito, that Mallorca substitute, the man in Guardiola's shadow had his own light. Then came the insidious disease that he, Barça, and all of us wanted to ignore. But it was there, relentless, and prevented him from having the success that he deserved. An injustice.

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