x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova faces more time off for cancer treatment

The manager is due to undergo surgery today, a year after having a cancerous tumour removed.

Tito Vilanova had a surgery last year to remove a tumour but has suffered a relapse.
Tito Vilanova had a surgery last year to remove a tumour but has suffered a relapse.

Barcelona confirm coach to have surgery today followed by chemotherapy, writes Ian Hawkey

Tito Vilanova, the Barcelona coach, was due to have an operation today as he suffered a relapse just over a year after having surgery to remove a cancerous tumour from a salivary gland.

The Spanish league leaders cancelled a news conference scheduled for yesterday lunchtime with the Barcelona president Sandro Rossell as reports of Vilanova’s condition emerged.

The club last night issued a statement saying: “An extension of the pathology has been detected in [Vilanova’s] parotid gland.

The manager requires surgery which he will undergo this Thursday. He is expected to remain in hospital for three to four days.

“After the surgery, Francesc ‘Tito’ Vilanova will undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment for approximately six weeks.

During this time, and depending on how well he recovers, Vilanova’s treatment may be compatible with his work life.

“Keeping in line with the patient’s wishes, we urge respect and privacy during this process.”

Vilanova was announced as Pep Guardiola's replacement in April on a two-year contract. One of the first points raised in private by journalists was Vilanova’s health.

The 44 year old had emergency surgery to remove a tumour on his parotid gland – the largest of the salivary glands – in November 2011 and was absent from Barca’s bench as Guardiola’s assistant for two months.

Fears subsided over his health and his inexperience when he eventually took charge – and his side got off to a winning start. And they have not stopped winning.

Sixteen league games into the season, Barca have won 15 and drawn once. It is the best start to the league in Spanish football history, a winning formula which has exceeded all expectations.

Players have praised Vilanova’s management style. It is less intense than the man he replaced and it works. So everyone at the club was shocked to hear yesterday that Vilanova had suffered a relapse. He found that out during a recent medical check-up.

Speaking recently on Spanish television about his cancer treatment last year, Vilanova said: “The one lesson you learn is that it can happen to anyone, even if you look after yourself. Life can change completely from one day to another.

“The people who suffer from this can only try to be strong as possible and the environment they are in can help a lot. They need to rest and not come back to work so soon like I did.”

Everyone will be wishing him well.