SOCCER

“You were our hero”

Tito Vilanova's children provide most emotional moments at funeral Mass for ex-Barça coach Players, ex-club presidents and politicians come together to pay their respects

Former Barcelona presidents (r to l) Sandro Rosell, Joan Laporta and Joan Gaspart at the Mass for Vilanova.
Former Barcelona presidents (r to l) Sandro Rosell, Joan Laporta and Joan Gaspart at the Mass for Vilanova.gianluca Battista

Former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova, who died on Friday at the age of 45 after a battle with cancer, received the best farewell a father could deserve from the mouths of his two children, Carlota and Adrià, on Monday.

The pair’s calm and emotional speeches crowned the funeral Mass held for the late coach at Barcelona cathedral, whose capacity had to be increased to accommodate the more than 1,500 who attended.

Among the mourners were representatives of his former club, Spanish and European soccer and Catalan civil society, as well as regional premier Artur Mas, Barcelona Mayor Xavier Trías and the government delegate in Catalonia, María de los Llanos de Luna. Two enormous screens were erected outside the cathedral in Plà de la Seu so the hundreds of fans stationed there could follow the ceremony, which was officiated by the archbishop of Barcelona, Lluís Martínez Sistach.

“To you I will dedicate all my successes and your memory will guide me my whole career,” said 17-year-old Adrià, a player in the Barcelona B youth side. “Now I know you will always be by my side, you will be my guardian angel.”

“Now I know you will always be by my side, you will be my guardian angel”

“My father is alive within me and he will be there forever,” added Carlota. “You were our hero, our role model.”

Just as affectionate was the farewell given by Vilanova’s friend and Barça assistant coach Jordi Roura. “I always admired your bravery,” he said in his speech. “Your hand never trembled. The only time I saw you be indecisive was when you asked [your wife] Montse out.”

The ceremony brought together members of the Barcelona squad; youth team players; captains and coaches of all the professional sections; the club’s directors, led by president Josep Maria Bartomeu, as well as his predecessors Sandro Rosell, Joan Laporta, Joan Gaspart, Enric Reyna, Josep Lluís Núñez and Agustí Montal.

The commemorations for Vilanova will conclude next Saturday in Camp Nou during Barcelona’s Liga match against Getafe.

 

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