From Ball boy to Captain to Coach – The Barca Fairytale

Josep Guardiola, the current head coach at famed Spanish giants Barcelona is one of the worlds greatest coaches. A deep thinker, hard worker, honest, intelligent and a tough individual. Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola’s tenure at Barcelona has seen a plethora of major titles.

  • 2009/10 League
  • 2009/10 World Club Cup
  • 2009/10 European Supercup
  • 2009/10 Spanish Supercup
  • 2008/09 Champions League

Pep is a Catalonian through and through, he was signed by the spanish giants at the tender age of thirteen and ascended up the ranks until he made his first team debut aged just nineteen in 1990.

A great picture in the Daily Mail newspaper shows a young Pep Guardiola celebrating amidst the players, and then coach Terry Venables (raised aloft).

Guardiola was submerged within the culture of Barcelona at a very young age, by spending almost all his playing and coaching career with the club, ‘Pep’ has be able to nourish and promote the style, flair and history that the club emits.

Guardiola as a ball boy celebrating a Barca triumph

During the legendary Barca side created by Johan Cruyff in the 90’s, Pep was the only Catalonian in the side. Under Cruyff’s regime of ‘total football’, Cruyff was able to produce arguably one of the greatest teams ever.

Pep aged just 20 anchored the midfield and snuffed out any threats by the opposing team.

Cruyff had assembled a side of masters. With a young, yet hardened & demure Guardiola patrolling in midfield.

  • Koeman
  • Stoichkov
  • Romario
  • Laudrup
  • Nadal
  • Zubizarreta
  • & then later Romanian Hagi

Present England Coach Fabio Capello who coached Pep briefly at Roma declared,

‘At his peak, Guardiola was one of the quickest thinkers on the field. He was a true leader. He was calm, always had the right words at the appropriate moment. There are a lot of players who talk a lot and say nothing. Guardiola would find the right things to say’


Pep continued to flourish under the nurturing style of English man Bobby Robson, who described Guardiola as

‘ an extraordinary player – intelligent, clever, he knew the game, and he had an exquisite pass, precise, accurate. He never lost the ball.’


A fine testament there for Guardiola, by one of the games greatest footballing men. Yet statements like those above come accustom when discussing Guardiola. A strong & fiercesome competitor with exceptional vision and technique. It seemed natural that the next progression would be straight into full-time coaching. Once Guardiola took the step, the transition was one of ease & success.

After retiring Pep spent a short time coaching the Barca b squad,but in May of 2008 the Barca president announced that Guardiola would succeed Dutchman Frank Rijkaard at the helm of the Catalan giants.

However, even with such pedigree, Guardiola had his doubters. At the time Pep’s appointment was seen as a huge gamble by the club & President Juan Laporta

Shockingly to some, Guardiola won the treble in his first season. The la liga, copa del ray & the EUFA Champions League. In the process becoming the youngest manager ever to win the Champions league.

But what made this feet so great was the way it was undertaken. Pep understood the style of play Barca needed to produce. And found the balance between the spectacle of Barca as a club, and that of serious footballing business.

And with that being said, Pep transferred lavish stars from his playing staff, such as

  • Zambrotta
  • Ronaldinho
  • Deco
  • Thuram
  • Dos Santos
  • Edmilson
  • Eto (The following season)
  • Ibrahimovic

Bringing in players like

  • Alves
  • Busquettes
  • Pique
  • Keita
  • Villa
  • Mascherano

A meticulous manager, with deep knowledge & great skills of motivation. Guardiola is one of only 6 individuals to have won the Champions League as a player and coach. Furthermore, Guardiola is only the third individual in Barca history to win the spanish league as a manager having previously done so as a player.

It seems the ball boy who became captain, who became coach, was not a gamble, but a decision that seemed destined and now rightly justified.


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