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Tito Vilanova

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Tito Vilanova to undergo surgery and chemotherapy after cancer relapse

• Barcelona coach previously had tumour removed in 2011

• Assistant Jordi Roura will take charge during treatment

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Sid Lowe

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 19 December 2012 18.11 GMT


The Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova is to undergo surgery after suffering a relapse of his cancer. Photograph: Manu Fernandez/AP

The Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has suffered a relapse of the cancer in the parotid saliva gland that was first diagnosed in November 2011 when he was Pep Guardiola's assistant, and will not be able to take charge of his side's trip to Valladolid on Saturday night.


Vilanova will undergo a surgical intervention on Thursday following a routine check up carried out at the Vall d'Hebrón hospital in Barcelona on Tuesday. He will be in hospital for three to four days and then undergo a six-week treatment of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but doctors say that he may be able to continue working during that time.


In the meantime, the Barcelona first team will be coached by his assistant Jordi Roura. No long-term decisions have been made and there has been no suggestion that Vilanova will have to step down.


The Barcelona president, Sandro Rosell, and the sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta were at the club's San Joan Despí training ground early on Wednesday evening to break the news to the players. A formal statement was released shortly afterwards.


Although there had not yet been any official announcement from Barcelona when the players began arriving, reports had by then emerged saying that Vilanova had suffered a relapse. Messages of support were sent in from all over Spain and beyond, with players from other clubs wishing him well, although the only Barcelona player to say anything publicly during an anxious afternoon of waiting and rumour was the goalkeeper José Pinto, who insisted that he did not know anything.


Real Madrid even released an official statement offering Vilanova their support – before Barcelona had made any formal announcement. At 5.30pm Adriá Vilanova, Tito's son, sent a message by twitter thanking everyone for their support and adding: "everything will be ok."


Vilanova had a tumour removed from his parotid gland in November 2011 and underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy. He returned to work swiftly and at the end of last season was given the first team manager's job after Guardiola's decision to resign. He has enjoyed a record-breaking start as Barcelona manager, winning 15 and drawing one of the team's opening 16 league games.


A check-up on Tuesday revealed the return of cancer, which will be removed on Thursday. On Wednesday morning, Barcelona cancelled their traditional Christmas meal with the media and a scheduled press conference with Rosell. No explanation was given for the decision but the club promised to make another statement later in the day. That statement eventually arrived just before 6.30pm.


It read: "During on going monitoring, an extension of the pathology has been detected in [Vilanova's] Parotid gland. The manager requires surgery which he will undergo this Thursday. He is expected to remain in hospital for three to four days.


"After the surgery, Francesc 'Tito' Vilanova will undergo chemotherapy and rediation treatment for approximately six weeks. During this time, and depending on how well he recovers, Vilanova's treatment may be compatible with his work life. Keeping in line with the patient's wishes, we request respect and privacy during this process."



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As a fellow sufferer or the same thing (salivary gland tumor) I'm not sure this is quite as bad as a typical recurrence. He had his first lump removed from his throat and this one is in his parotid. The fact that he's having another lot of radiotherapy so soon after suggests this is a different spot to the first tumor.


I think the major problem with relapses is you can't keep radiating the same place, but this seems different; hopefully with excellent care Tito will be fine. It's obviously bad news but fingers crossed his treatment will do the job.

Edited by Leo No.8
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