Josep “Pep” Guardiola Sala, was born on 18 January 1971 (age – 50 years) and is a Spanish football manager and former player.

Josep is currently the manager of Premier League club, Manchester City. Pep is among the greatest managers of all time.

Additionally, Pep also has the record for most consecutive league games won in the Bundesliga, La Liga, and the Premier League.

Early life

Guardiola was born in Santpedor, Barcelona, Spain, to Dolors, a homemaker, and Valentí, a bricklayer. He has two older sisters and a younger brother, Pere, who’s a football agent.

He is non-religious.

Before his stint at the youth academy of Barcelona, Pep was a football addict and played the moment he got a chance. His love for the sport also had him working as a ball boy for local matches.

Career

Barcelona

Pep Guardiola was attached with the La Masia at the age of 13 and rose through the ranks of Barcelona’s youth academy for six years.

He had his debut in 1990 against Cádiz.

The 1991-1992 season was Pep’s first official season with Barcelona, and it didn’t take him much time to become one of the leading players in what came to be referred to as “The Dream Team.”

In his first week at the club, Johan Cruyff (a Dutch football player and a coach) turned up unannounced just before half-time.

He entered the dug-out and asked Charly Rexach (the youth team manager), the name of the young boy.

“Guardiola – good lad,” Charly said.

Though Guardiola was meant to be on the right side of midfield, Cruyff told Rexach to make him play as the pivot. It was a difficult position for Guardiola and also was not used by many teams in Spain at that time.

Guardiola adjusted very quickly, just as Cruyff expected, and when he moved to the first-team in 1990, he became the pivot for The Dream Team.

1991-1992 – Guardiola became a first-team regular as Cruyff utilized the young midfielder in the absence of the suspended Guillermo Amor.

At 20 years of age, he was the key component in the team that won the La Liga and the European Cup. He was also called ‘the finest player in the world’ under the age of 21 by The Italian magazine Guerin Sportivo.

The “Dream Team” retained the title of La Liga between 1992-93 and 1993-94.

1994-1996 – Barcelona finished fourth in 1994-95 season, third in 1995-96 season, and Cruyff left in 1996, but Guardiola retained his position at the center of Barça’s midfield.

1996-1997 – In the season of 1996, Barcelona won three cups: the European cup Winner’s cup, the Copa del Rey, and the Supercopa de España, this time led by Bobby Robson.

Not much of the Dream Team was left by this time, as Luís Figo was signed and Hristo Stoichkov and Michael Laudrup were taken over by Ronaldo. 

1997-2001 – In the year of 1997, Guardiola was named as captain for Barcelona under Louis van Gaal, the new manager. But Guardiola stayed out of most of the 1997-1998 season because of a calf muscle injury.

Barcelona won a league and a cup double.

After Barcelona rejected around 300 million pesetas offer for Guardiola, he signed a new contract with the Catalan club that extended his stay until 2001. This happened after prolonged and complicated contract talks.

2001 – In the season of 2001, Guardiola returned into action and won Barcelona the La Liga, in which Rivaldo and Luís Figo performed exceptionally.

On 11 April 2001, Barcelona’s captain, Guardiola, announced his intention to leave after 17 years of service. He played his last match against Celta de Vigo with Barça, on 24 June 2001.

He happens to have played 479 games in 12 seasons for the first team, and winning 16 trophies.

Brescia and Roma

At the age of 30, Guardiola joined Brescia as Andrea Pirlo’s replacement in 2001. Here, he played a deep-lying playmaking role alongside Roberto Baggio under manager Carlo Mazzone. Guardiola transferred to Roma, following his run here.

Al-Ahli

After playing with Brescia and Roma, he chose to play with Al-Ahli in Qatar from Doha in the Qatar Stars League.

Here, he got to play with great footballers including Gabriel Batistuta.

Manchester United offered Guardiola a deal but he rejected the offer, as he wanted to play elsewhere.

He played consistently for Qatar Stars League and was praised as one of the best players in the league. 

In the 2004-05 Arab Champions League, Guardiola missed a penalty in the 19th minute during the competition’s first round. However, he got the second penalty into the goal in the 73rd minute.

Dorados de Sinaloa

Guardiola was recruited to play for the Mexican club Dorados se Sinaloa by manager Juan Manuel Lillo in 2006. Due to injuries, Guardiola appeared to play only ten times and scored one goal during his six-month tenure with the club before retiring.

International career

https://twitter.com/GuardiolaTweets/status/1051941374663233536

Spain

Guardiola started his career with Spain on 14 October 1992 with a 0-0 draw with Northern Ireland at Windsor Park during a World Cup qualifier.

In the same year, Spain won the Barcelona Olympic Games under Guardiola. 

From 1992-2001, he played 47 times for the senior Spain team and scored five goals.

While he was a part of Spain during the 1994 World Cup, the team lost the match by 2-1 to Italy after they reached the quarter-finals.

He also missed out on Euro 1996, after his relationship with Javier Clemente Spain’s manager turned sour.

He has also suffered from some career-threatening abuses that caused him to miss out on the 1998 World Cup.

Later in Euro 2000, he played with Spain and led the team to another quarter-final. However, this time the team lost against France by 2-1, the same margin.

On 14 November 2001, against Sweden in a 1-1 draw during his 45th appearance, he scored his last international goal. 

Catalonia

Guardiola has played seven friendly games for Catalonia, between 1995 and 2005. He has also played for and advocated in the favour of the Catalonia football team.

Honors

In 1992, Pep Guardiola was awarded the Bravo Award, which acknowledges the world’s best player under the age of 21. 

In 2008, Guardiola was awarded the Catalan Parliament’s Gold medal, their highest honor.

In the same year, before he was awarded, he coached Barcelona B after retiring as a player.

This resulted in Barcelona winning three national trophies in a single season – the La Liga, Copa del Rey, and UEFA Champions League.

He is among the greatest managers of all time. He also holds the record for the most consecutive league games won in La Liga, the Premier League, and the Bundesliga.

Guardiola who was usually a defensive midfielder spent his career with Barcelona, forming a part of Cruyff’s Dream Team.

This team won four successive Spanish titles from 1991 to 1994 and has also managed to win the Club’s first European Cup in 1992.

Guardiola has bettered 47 times for the Spanish national team.

Personal life

When Pep was 18, he met his wife Cristina Serra. They got married on 29 May 2014. Their wedding ceremony was a private one in Catalonia, where only close friends and family were invited.

Their children’s names are Maria, Màrius, Valentina.

While holding onto a job as Barcelona’s manager, Guardiola planned to settle down in Manhattan, New York, for a year to contemplate his future.

During the same year, he also studied German for four to five hours each day to prepare for the position of manager of Bayern Munich.

Controversies

In Italy, he had to face a four-month ban after testing positive for nandrolone (an androgen or anabolic steroid).

He was cleared on appeal of all charges related to the ban after six years on 23 October 2007.

However, the case was reopened again which was considered unacceptable by fans. But he was cleared one more time on 29 September 2009.

Full nameJosep Guardiola Sala
Date of birth18 January 1971 (age 50)
Place of birthSantpedor, Spain
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
PositionDefensive midfielder
Weight76 kg

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