Man behind the myth: the real Pep Guardiola

With the Catalan coach set to be unveiled officially by Bayern Munich on Monday, Goal takes a look at the human side he showed during his ultra-successful stint at Barcelona
By Pilar Suarez | Barcelona Correspondent

"There is nothing more dangerous than not taking risks" was one of many great phrases left by Pep Guardiola in his four years on the Barcelona bench. The quote came from the coach, but also from the man himself who, like anybody else, may feel fear in certain situations; that, however, is no obstacle for the slender yet imposing figure of the 42-year-old.

His presence in a press room, in a stadium or a restaurant, is enough to petrify anyone in the first instance. He has the ability to speak like few others; Zlatan Ibrahimovic was not wrong to describe Pep as a philosopher - that is exactly what he is. In his hundreds of appearances before the press, the Catalan coach gave us pure philosophy, of football and of life itself. Behind the coach who spoke of footballs and formations, there was a human being with a smile and a fixed glance to accompany his wise words.

"Talent depends on inspiration, but effort depends on each individual."

Guardiola's glory at Barcelona
1 Pep was bestowed with the Catalan of the Year Award after his remarkable debut season with Barca in 2009
2 He claimed two Champions Leagues, two Club World Cups and two Super Cups during his tenure
3 Guardiola also led Barca to three successive La Liga titles between 2008 and 2011
14 Pep's side amassed 14 of a possible 19 trophies in his four years
247 Coached Barca in 247 games (out of a possible 254). His side dominated possession in every single one, winning 179 and losing just 21
It is difficult to separate the coach from the man. Pep rarely hides his emotional state; it is enough to see him in the press room to know what kind of news he will deliver over the next few minutes. He decides who gets to know him and who will not, his intimacy is his alone and he defends it tooth and nail. True to his beliefs and his own identity, Guardiola does not allow himself to become easily attached, only to intelligent people and circumstances as wise as himself.

"I believe that in the places where one manages something, you have to be of the idea that tomorrow you could leave..."

Guardiola only offers interviews when it is necessary to do so (such as at the Fifa Ballon d'Or), is not interested in fame, nor in adulation; he knows who he is and does not doubt himself. For Pep, God does not exist. Catalunya is his nation, football his life and failure merely a part of success.

And at times, he lets it show that there are battles going on inside, his gut and heart versus his head and reason, but he tends to follow the most noble and sensitive part within. "Part of me tells me to go on being involved with football and another part of me tells me to get away," he once said. And after a while, he took time out for a sabbatical, but with his strength recovered and his batteries charged, he feels energised for a new challenge, perhaps the greatest of his professional and even his personal life: Bayern Munich.

The man and the coach live side by side, day by day. The greatest mistake would be to think that this genius lives only thinking of long-term strategies: "I am incapable of planning something more than half a year or a year ahead. I get tired. It's impossible for me."

That's why Pep is fascinating, able to produce surprises when one least expects it. That's him, his feet firmly planted on the ground.

"You are good and you know you are good. Go out there [and show it]. I am a great defender of human beings and I believe in them very, very, very much."

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