Francesc “Tito” Vilanova i Bayó (17 September 1968 – 25 April 2014) was a Spanish football central midfielder and manager.
After a professional career which consisted of 26 La Liga games in three seasons combined, all with Celta, he went on to work with Barcelona as an assistant coach under Pep Guardiola, being part of the squads that won 14 titles.
In 2012 Vilanova was appointed first-team manager, winning the national championship in his first season. He stepped down in July 2013 due to ill health, and died the following year from cancer.
Born in Bellcaire d’Empordà, Girona, Catalonia, Vilanova emerged in the youth ranks of local FC Barcelona, but left the La Liga giants in 1990 unable to break through into the first team. His next club was also in his native region, UE Figueres, with the player helping the team to its best-ever Segunda División classification in the 1991–92 campaign (third place); the team would eventually face Cádiz CF in the promotion play-offs, losing 1–3 on aggregate.
Subsequently Vilanova moved to the top level with Celta de Vigo, but appeared rarely over the course of three full seasons,returning to division two in 1995 and representing CD Badajoz, RCD Mallorca – contributing with ten games as the Balearic Islands side promoted to the top flight – UE Lleida and Elche CF, retiring in December 2001 with lowly UDA Gramenet.
During his time at Lleida, in a 1998 Copa Catalunya game against Barcelona, coached by José Mourinho who swapped responsibilities with head coach Louis van Gaal during the tournament, Vilanova scored a goal, becoming the first player to net against a team directed by the Portuguese.
Vilanova started his coaching career in 2003–04, being in charge of Tercera División side FC Palafrugell and suffering relegation to Primera Catalana.After working as technical director at Terrassa FC he was appointed assistant manager at FC Barcelona B, under manager Pep Guardiola, with the club in the fourth level.
In the summer of 2008, after leading the reserve side to promotion to Segunda División B, Vilanova and Guardiola were assigned to the Barcelona first team, replacing Dutch duo Frank Rijkaard and Johan Neeskens.His first season at the Camp Nou was the most successful in Barcelona’s history, with the club winning six major trophies and becoming the first in Spain to win the Copa del Rey, league and UEFA Champions League titles (the treble) in the same season.
On 27 April 2012, at the press conference in which Barcelona confirmed Guardiola’s departure, it was also announced that Vilanova would be his successor.On 15 June he signed a two-year contract, and the team went on to lose only eight competitive games during the season, winning its 22nd domestic championship.
On 19 December 2012, Barcelona announced that Vilanova was suffering from parotid gland cancer for the second time.He was first diagnosed on 22 November of the previous year.
Vilanova underwent surgery on 20 December, subsequently being in chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for around six weeks. Assistant Jordi Roura took over as head coach, with the head manager returning to the bench in late March 2013.
On 19 July 2013 Vilanova resigned as Barcelona manager as he relapsed from his condition, stating that the related treatment was not compatible with the status of a professional manager. He died on 25 April 2014, due to complication.
Vilanova was married to Montse Chaure.The couple had two children, daughter Carlota and son Adrià, with the latter also being formed in Barcelona’s youth system.