Vilanova set to step down as Barcelona coach after tumour relapse
15:47 GMT, 19 December 2012
Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova is set to step down from his post after suffering a relapse of a tumour he had removed last year.
The 44-year-old had a tumour on his parotid gland removed in emergency surgery last November when he was the club's assistant manager.
The parotid gland is the largest of the human salivary glands.
But during a recent medical check-up, it was found that the tumour had returned. He is reportedly undergoing emergency surgery in a Barcelona hospital at the moment.
It was announced in April that Vilanova would take over as Barca coach following Pep Guardiola's decision to step down at the end of the season and take a year-long sabbatical from the game.
Stepping down: Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has suffered a relapse of a tumour he had removed last November
Vilanova was Guardiola's assistant
during four hugely successful years at the Nou Camp which saw Barca win
13 trophies, including two Champions League crowns and three Primera
Vilanova has enjoyed a superb start to his tenure in the hotseat,
helping Barca establish a nine-point lead at the top of the league
standings after winning 15 of their opening 16 games while drawing the
Barca are also through to the knockout stages of the Champions League
and hold a 2-0 first-leg lead over Cordoba in their Copa del Rey last-16
The club cancelled a scheduled press conference involving Club President Sandro Rosell on Wednesday as the news broke, as well as the staff Christmas party.
A training session scheduled for 6pm UK time this evening, and which was open to the public for the first 15 minutes, has been closed off.
have announced that no decision will be made on a potential replacement
until Vilanova has spoken to the players.
The news broke on the same day defender Eric Abidal was given the all-clear to resume his playing career following a liver transplant.
VILANOVA'S RECORD AT BARCELONA SO FAR
Pld 27 W 23 D 2 L 2 (85.18% win ratio)
Successor: Vilanova replaced Pep Guardiola (right) as Barcelona manager in the summer
Messages of support flooded in for Vilanova from throughout the sporting world.
'Very sorry to hear the news,' Barca midfielder Xavi said on his official Twitter account.
Former tennis world number one Rafa
Nadal said: 'All my strength and support for Tito Vilanova! We are all
with you to overcome this next hurdle.'
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero tweeted: 'We support you, #AnimoTito! We wish you the strength to overcome this moment.'
His Spanish teammate David Silva added: 'All my support and best wishes to Tito and all of the people in the world fighting every day against cancer. Be strong #AnimoTito'
Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker tweeted: 'Very sorry to hear Tito Vilanova, the Barca coach, is undergoing surgery after a cancer relapse. Thoughts are with him.'
A statement on the Madrid website read: 'Real Madrid want to express their support and best wishes for the coach of FC Barcelona, Tito Vilanova, and wish him a very rapid recovery. Real Madrid offer their support to his club and to all his family.'
Good job: Barcelona are nine points clear at the summit of La Liga
Vilanova was out of action for around
three weeks after surgery last year, but returned to the dugout to help
Guardiola for the last six months of the 2011-12 campaign.
The quietly-spoken Catalan said the experience had left him with a different perspective on life, at his presentation in June.
'I had an important operation a few
months ago,' he said. 'I spoke with the medics and my family about the
job, but they all said I was perfectly okay and there was no problem.
'Having overcome this operation it
gives me a different view on life. Perhaps, after what has happened,
training Barca will be like kids play.'
Barca released a press statement this morning announcing they had suspended all activities for today but did not go into details and did not mention Vilanova.
The club confirmed a further announcement would be made later today.
The statement read: 'Barcelona announce that it is has suspended the press conference from president Sandro Rosell planned for midday. As well as that, the media Christmas lunch has been cancelled.
'Later today the club will issue a further release. Until that time we will not make any announcement about this matter.
'We regret any inconvenience this decision may cause.'