Barcelona defender Eric Abidal send Tito Vilanova his support
Coach to undergo surgery and chemotherapy
Thursday 20 December 2012
Barcelona defender Eric Abidal has offered his support to Tito Vilanova after his return from cancer treatment yesterday was overshadowed by news his coach faces a new fight against the illness.
Vilanova, 44, was due to undergo an operation on his parotid gland today and faces six weeks of chemotherapy.
Barcelona confirmed the news last night, coincidentally, on the same day Abidal returned to training for the first time since he needed a liver transplant in April.
Abidal's return was a significant step in his bid to continue his career, however, he admitted he had been left thinking only about his ailing boss.
"I confirm you that I have started again the collective training with the group," he wrote on his Facebook page today.
"I hope to come back soon on the fields, but I can't stop thinking of our coach, Tito Vilanova: I wish him and his family, a lot of courage!"
Barcelona were due to release a statement on Vilanova later today as he faced his second surgery in just over a year.
Vilanova, who took over from Pep Guardiola in the summer, initially had a tumour removed from his throat in November last year.
Barcelona held a specifically-convened press conference last night in which president Sandro Rosell offered Vilanova the club's unconditional support.
Rosell, who was flanked by on-field leaders Carles Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Victor Valdes, revealed assistant manager Jordi Roura would take interim charge, however, he said he expected Vilanova would quickly return to the touchline.
The club even opened the door for Vilanova to return during his recovery, with a statement saying his "treatment may be compatible with his work life".
"Tito is strong, very strong. He's shown us that and we're convinced he'll back with us very soon," Rosell said.
"We want to express our unconditional support to Tito and his family.
"We thank everyone for their support. We have complete confidence in the team. The club is very strong and united, we're capable of overcoming adversity."
Speculation in the Spanish press has already linked Guardiola, who left the club to take a year-long sabbatical in the summer, with a return, but sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta denied any contact had been made.
Barca travel to Real Valladolid on Saturday before the winter break and Zubizarreta emphasised Vilanova, who has led the La Liga leaders to their best ever start, remained in charge.
"Tito is our coach and will continue to be our coach," he said. "Jordi (Roura) will be on the sidelines for Valladolid, but all the rest is pure speculation."
Zubizarreta also expressed his shock at the news, saying: "It was difficult news to hear.
"Tito's only concern has centred on his children and his family. The only person he has not spoken of is himself."
Latest in Sport
Jose Mourinho-Arsene Wenger feud is not sporting, but keeps alive raw spirit of competition - Sam Wallace
Pedro to Manchester United: Transfer news live - Angel Di Maria to PSG, John Stones to Chelsea, £100m Gareth Bale bid
Watch Petr Cech, Francis Coquelin, Olivier Giroud and Mathieu Debuchy photobomb Arsenal fans
Premier League 2015/16 preview: Club-by-club guide to the new season
Can Arsenal win the Premier League? Is Raheem Sterling the answer to Man City's problems? Can anything stop Chelsea?
- 2 Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Jeremy Corbyn: Tony Blair could face war crimes trial over 'illegal Iraq invasion'
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'