Josep “Pep” Guardiola Sala is a Spanish professional football manager and former player. He is considered to be one of the greatest managers of all time. He holds the record for the most consecutive league games won in La Liga, the Bundesliga and the Premier League. Guardiola was a creative and technically gifted defensive midfielder who usually played in a deep-lying playmaker’s role. He spent the majority of his career with Barcelona, forming a part of Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team that won the club’s first European Cup in 1992, and four successive Spanish league titles from 1991 to 1994. He later captained the team from 1997 until his departure from the club in 2001. After leaving Barcelona, Guardiola had stints with Brescia and Roma in Italy, Al-Ahli in Qatar, and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico. He was capped 47 times for the Spanish national team and appeared at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, as well as at UEFA Euro 2000. He also played friendly matches for Catalonia. After retiring as a player, Guardiola briefly coached Barcelona B, with whom he won a Tercera División title, and assumed control of the first-team in 2008. In his first season as the first team manager, he guided Barcelona to the treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League. In doing so, Guardiola became the youngest manager to win the aforementioned European competition. The following campaign, he led Barcelona to four trophies, including winning his second Spanish league title as manager. In 2011, after leading the club to another La Liga and Champions League double, Guardiola was awarded the Catalan Parliament’s Gold Medal, their highest honour. The same year, he was also named the FIFA World Coach of the Year. In Guardiola’s final season at Barcelona, he again won four trophies, before departing in 2012. He ended his four-year Barcelona stint with 14 honours, a club record. After a sabbatical period, Bayern Munich announced Guardiola would join the club as manager in 2013. In his first season at the club, he won four trophies, including the double of Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal. Guardiola won seven trophies during his three-year tenure in Germany; winning the Bundesliga every season he was there, as well as two domestic doubles. He left the Bavarians for Manchester City in 2016, and guided them to a Premier League title in his second campaign in charge, breaking numerous domestic records as the team became the first to attain 100 league points. He won a second consecutive Premier League and EFL Cup the following season, as well as the FA Cup, to capture an unprecedented domestic treble in English men’s football.
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After leaving Barcelona in 2001 at age 30, Guardiola joined Serie A side Brescia as Andrea Pirlo’s replacement in the deep-lying playmaking role, where he played alongside Roberto Baggio under manager Carlo Mazzone. Following his stint at Brescia, Guardiola transferred to Roma. His time in Italy, however, was unsuccessful and included a four-month ban for testing positive for nandrolone. Six years later, on 23 October 2007, Guardiola was cleared on appeal of all charges related to the ban. CONI, however, reopened the case against the player because it considered the absolution unacceptable, but he was cleared once again on 29 September 2009. He played a number of Coppa Italia games and Champions League games, finishing with 71 games in Italy.
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Considered one of the best midfielders of his generation by Johan Cruyff, Guardiola was a highly creative, hard-working, nimble, and elegant player, with good anticipation, tactical awareness, and an ability to read the game; throughout his career, he was deployed as a central or defensive midfielder in front of his team’s back-line. Although he was competent defensively and able to press opponents to break up play and win the ball, due to his slender build he usually functioned as a deep-lying playmaker, where he excelled courtesy of his technical ability and intelligent, efficient, precise passing game. Despite his lack of notable pace or physical attributes, Guardiola was highly regarded throughout his career for his vision, close control, passing range, positional sense, and calm composure on the ball, which enabled him to retain possession and either set the tempo of his team’s play in midfield with intricate short exchanges, or switch the play or create chances with longer passes. Guardiola was capable of being an offensive threat, due to his ability to make attacking runs or strike accurately from distance; he was also effective at creating chances or shooting on goal from set-pieces. Having served as captain of both Barcelona and the Spanish national side, he also stood out for his leadership throughout his career. Guardiola’s playing style, which relied on creativity, technique and ball movement, rather than physicality and pace, inspired several future diminutive Spanish playmaking midfielders, such as Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, and Cesc Fàbregas. Guardiola made his senior debut on 14 October 1992 in a 0–0 draw with Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in a World Cup qualifier. In the same year, Guardiola captained Spain when they won a gold medal at the Barcelona Olympic Games. It was in this year when he won the Bravo Award, which recognizes the world’s best player under the age of 21. Between 1992 and 2001, Guardiola played over 47 times and scored five goals for the senior Spain team. He was a member of the Spanish team during the 1994 World Cup, where they reached the quarter-finals, losing 2–1 to Italy. He fell out of favour with Javier Clemente, Spain’s manager, due to disagreements and missed out on Euro 1996. He suffered a career-threatening injury in 1998, which kept him out of the 1998 World Cup, but he later played at Euro 2000, where he led Spain to yet another quarter-final, this time losing to France by the same margin, 2–1. He led the Spanish midfield until his final appearance for la Roja, a 1–0 win in a friendly against Mexico on 14 November 2001; he scored his last international goal against Sweden in a 1–1 draw during his 45th appearance. Guardiola has played for and advocated on behalf of the Catalonia football team. Between 1995 and 2005, he played seven friendly games for Catalonia. Guardiola was born to Dolors and Valentí. He has two older sisters and a younger brother, Pere, a football agent. He is non-religious. Guardiola met his wife when he was 18. They married on 29 May 2014. They have three children named Maria, Màrius and Valentina. Following his tenure as Barcelona’s manager, he stated that he would move to the United States to live in Manhattan, New York, for a year, until he decided on his future. To prepare for his position as the manager of Bayern Munich, Guardiola practised German for four to five hours per day. Guardiola supports the political independence of Catalonia. In 2015, he confirmed that he would participate in the pro-independence coalition Junts pel Sí in that year’s regional parliamentary election.