Barcelona: Former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has written an open letter expressing his gratitude to the club`s directors, players and fans.
The Catalan outfit called a press conference on Friday to announce the 44-year-old would be unable to fulfill his duties in a coaching capacity ahead of the season following a relapse of his cancer.
And Vilanova, who will now reprise his battle against parotid gland cancer, delivered his heartfelt appreciation after leading Barcelona to their 22nd Liga title during his sole season in charge.
"Thank you Barca; thank you everyone," he wrote.
"After five wonderful years as part of a team that has made dreams come true as a coach, the time has come to face a change in my professional life and to devote forces to continue the process of the disease that I was diagnosed a year and a half ago.
"In the opinion of the doctors and due to the treatment I have to follow, I can`t spend the time that a team like Barcelona would require as first coach to do my tasks, but I will keep on working very close to this club I love so much.
"It is not easy to leave this very special group of players, fellow staff and friends with whom I shared many memorable experiences. I`ll be eternally grateful for everything you have given to me and I have shown.
"The human quality and this football team can go through any obstacle and I am convinced that with its skills it will be able to face the challenges of a sports season which should be exciting for everyone.
"I also want to especially thank the Chairman, the Board and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta for the confidence they gave to me and, above all, unconditional support, both sporting and personal.
"Equally important to me is the support I received both medically and humanely from Dr. Ramon Canal and his team of doctors who are at my side. I do not play this game alone, I`m a part of a supportive club that will help me succeed in this long process, as it has done until now.
"To all of you, members and fans of the club, I also want to thank your samples of support and affection that you had, not just now but over the last few months. I`m quiet, strong and I will face this new stage in the process of my illness with full confidence that everything is gonna be ok.
"Thank you to all football fans, colleagues in the profession, clubs, athletes and acquaintances for your messages of encouragement that comforted me and my family.
"These are difficult times for me and so I requested the media respect and comprehension. Once I stopped being the coach of the club, I hope to have the tranquility and privacy that me and my family need right now.
"I cannot conclude this letter without wishing luck and every success to the new coach of the best team in the world.
"Thank you all.