Tito Vilanova has admitted it was not easy to leave Barcelona after stepping down as manager due to illness.
Vilanova, who was diagnosed with cancer for a second time in December 2012, resigned on Friday after learning that he needed further treatment to deal with a relapse in his condition.
The 44-year-old took charge at the Camp Nou in June 2012, succeeding Pep Guardiola, but his tenure was overshadowed by his health issues, with assistant Jordi Roura mangaing the team for much of last season.
Vilanova spent five years with the Catalan club, joining in 2008 as Guardiola’s assistant after the pair had enjoyed great success with the Barcelona B team.
In an open letter to supporters on the club’s official website, Vilanova said: “After five marvellous years as part of a team that would make any trainer’s dreams come true, the time has come for me to deal with a change in my professional life in order for me to devote my strength and energy to continuing to treat the illness I was diagnosed with eighteen months ago.
“Leaving a group of such special people is not easy, the players, colleagues and friends that I have shared so many unforgettable experiences with.
“I will be eternally grateful to them for everything they have given me and what they have shown me.
“The human and footballing quality of this team is up to any test and I’m convinced that it will face the new sporting challenges, which should be exciting for everyone, with all the ability it possesses.”
Vilanova has the utmost confidence that will he recover from his illness and was eager to send his best wishes to the prospective new manager.
“I can tell you I’m calm, strong and that I start this new stage in my recovery with full confidence that everything will be fine,” he added.
“I did not want to finish this letter without wishing luck and every success to the new trainer of the best team in the world.”
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