"Tito was an absolutely normal person, a quality that is rare in football nowadays"

Jordi Roura talks to the Players' Association to relive the anecdotes with one of his best friends, who left us now 10 years ago

April 25, 2014 was a tragic day for Barcelona and for the entire football world: a malignant tumor put an end, at the age of 45, to the life of Tito Vilanova, coach of the first team a few months earlier. Today he will be remembered on the front pages as the coach of the 100-point league, but those who shared his life with him are aware of the influence he has had on their lives beyond the numbers and popularity he never sought. Jordi Roura, Tito's friend and assistant coach during his time on the bench and a member of the FC Barcelona Players' Association, explains their strong friendship.

It all started with "Els Golafres" ("The Gluttons"): young players from La Masia who met to eat Catalan products imported from their villages while talking about soccer. That's how Tito Vilanova, from Bellcaire d'Empordà, and Jordi Roura, originally from Llagostera, met: "We were all crazy about soccer. He watched a lot of matches, he liked to watch them... He was very studious". He was known as "El Marqués" "because he was a perfectionist and always liked to dress neatly" - says Roura with a smile.

Tito a la Masia

"Els Golafres" leading the first team.

"Close, affable, direct and authentic. When he said something, he did it". This is how Tito earned the respect and affection of everyone. Also in the 2012-2013 season, when he took over as first team coach. Roura was the second of the man who "was like a brother". The basis of his success in life, according to him, is that "he was an absolutely normal person, a quality that is rare in football nowadays".

The goal was not an easy one: he had to continue writing successes in the most golden chapter of the club's history. Neither was growing in popularity: "He didn't take fame very well. He enjoyed soccer exclusively”. Fortunately, he shared the challenge with his lifelong friends. According to Roura, "that was one of the differential aspects. We shared the knowledge and the feeling of this house. [...] We always told him what we had to say when we had to say it. Sometimes he was fine with it and sometimes not, but that is the greatness of friendship". One phrase sums up Tito Vilanova's time on the Barça bench: "Everything was going well except what needed to go well", Roura said.

Foto Tito Jordi

The gray days and the most valuable lesson in life

Although he underwent medical tests during the preseason, Tito Vilanova relapsed from the malignant tumor he suffered in 2012. So Jordi Roura fulfilled the duties of head coach on the pitch for four months, an uncomfortable situation: "In addition to the pressure and demands, there was the personal issue. I knew he was fighting for his life. It was an absolutely anomalous situation that I hope never happens again".

The outcome was very hard, but at the same time it gave him a life lesson: "Since all this happened, I face things with a different approach. Things are of relative importance, and football is just football”. Now he focuses on enjoying the little things and, from time to time, sharing a meal and a long after-dinner conversation with "Els Golafres" with Tito in his memory.

Tito al BArça Atlètic


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