Guardiola was a born leader – but money has helped, says Stoichkov

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While the Catalan was a "born leader" and has enjoyed terrific success in the dugout, his former team-mate believes that finances have played a role

Barcelona legend Hristo Stoichkov has paid tribute to former team-mate Pep Guardiola, though he did say that the achievements of the Manchester City boss need to be put in the context of the clubs he has managed.

Stoichkov played with Guardiola from 1990-95 at Camp Nou, with the latter going on to enjoy a successful managerial career at the club before moving to Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Wherever Pep has gone, trophies have followed. He has won six domestic league titles, and is red-hot favourite to make it seven with City this season, four domestic cup competitions and the Champions League twice.

Stoichkov believes this is down to the natural leadership abilities of the 47-year-old, but also the type of financial support he has enjoyed at these sides.

“He was a born leader,” the Bulgarian told Goal at the Turkey Sport Awards. “Everyone was connected to him on the pitch due to his position in the midfield. Each play started through him. Ronald Koeman got the ball to Guardiola and he did the rest.

“He became the leader of the play at such a young age for that position. He had a long career with Spain, too. 

“But, of course, as a coach, when you have the money, you can get the best players in your side. It’s been like that in Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City.”

Jose Mourinho was at the club working in the coaching staff during Stoichkov's era, and the Bulgarian was impressed by the manner in which the Portuguese conducted himself, facilitating his meteoric rise to Manchester United manager.

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“Mourinho was always a coach, but few knew about it,” he revealed of the man better known as Sir Bobby Robson's interpreter at that point. “Mourinho had a special position. He was writing down what each player did, or could not do in the training. Then he was telling Robson about it all. That’s why he is one of the greatest managers in the world. He was always one step ahead.”

Stoichkov also spoke of Barca attacker Lionel Messi, explaining that he wants Argentina to win the World Cup this summer in order for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to answer those final few critics.

“Messi cannot be compared to anyone. He is the greatest,” he said. “I want him to win the World Cup, so people will stop comparing to the others. Nobody can do what he does at Barcelona.”

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