MADRID, Spain, May 25 – Pep Guardiola brings the curtain down on his Barcelona reign on Friday, admitting that he is still bitter over his failure to take the Spanish giants to the Champions League final.
Guardiola, who has coached Barca for four years, will take charge of his team for the last time in Friday’s King’s Cup final against Athletic Bilbao before being replaced by his assistant Tito Vilanova.
The 41-year-old Guardiola led Barcelona to three Spanish leagues, two Champions Leagues, two FIFA Club World Cups, two UEFA Supercups, three Spanish Supercups and, so far, one Spanish King’s Cup during his spell.
But his team were knocked out of this season’s Champions League in the semi-finals by Chelsea, who went on to defeat Bayern Munich in last Saturday’s final.
“My only regret is not getting to Munich this year. Even today, I still feel bitter over that,” said Guardiola on Thursday.
“But I want to also congratulate Chelsea. I believe that they have a generation of footballers who deserve this title.”
Guardiola also took the opportunity to dismiss rumours that he had been against the appointment of Vilanova as his successor.
“In November, we had dinner with (Andoni) Zubizarreta (the club’s sporting director) during which I was asked what I thought of Tito if I decided to leave,” said Guardiola.
“I told him that it was a very good idea. On the day of the Chelsea game, it was me who went to see Tito and I said to him: ‘I believe your time has come’.
“We have known each other since we were 13…”