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.