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says of his friend: "Nobody has paid any attention to the fundamental fact that Guardiola is a bric

Time:2018-04-16 22:59Shoes websites Click:

football manager described Guevara City

Pep Guardiola is a football obsessive but is relaxed and happy in Manchester

Pep Guardiola is the son of a bricklayer who has been described as the Che Guevara of football - but who exactly is the Manchester City manager?

As he comes towards the end of his second season in England the 47-year-old remains something of an enigma in the country in which he now lives.

I have been following his life and career for more than 20 years, talking during that period to him and the key people who have helped shape the person he has become.

Working on an update of my Guardiola biography Another Way Of Winning, I caught up with them to discover whether he remains the same - or whether England has changed him.

(Listen to Pep Guardiola - 5 live sport special at 19:00 BST on Wednesday)

Old-fashioned values and Italian loafers

Guardiola was born 70km from Barcelona in the sleepy town of Santpedor, which lies in the shadow of the rocky outline of Monserrat, a giant, iconic, serrated mountain so precious to Catalans.

He was the third of four children born to Valenti Guardiola, a bricklayer, and Dolors Sala and raised in a working-class home with solid family principles and a clear sense of dignity.

The writer and film director David Trueba, who knows him better than many, says of his friend: "Nobody has paid any attention to the fundamental fact that Guardiola is a bricklayer's son.

"For Pep, his father is an example of integrity and hard work. The family he has grown up with in Santpedor has instilled old values in him, values from a time in which parents didn't have money or property to hand down to their children.

"When it comes to analysing or judging Guardiola, you must bear in mind that underneath the elegant suit, the cashmere jumper and the tie, is the son of a bricklayer. Inside those expensive Italian shoes there is a heart in espadrilles."

Pep Guardiola and other La Masia youngsters from the 1987-88 season

Pep Guardiola and other La Masia youngsters from the 1987-88 season - the Manchester City boss says his time there was a crucial period of his life

And no understanding of Guardiola is complete without a grasp of La Masia, until 2011 the home and production line of the Barcelona Academy set up by Johan Cruyff. For about six years from 1984 it was the home of Guardiola.

"I had the best years of my life at La Masia - a time focused on the single, most non-negotiable dream that I have ever had: to play for Barca's first team."

Barcelona and Netherlands legend Cruyff became Guardiola's great mentor, a man he would meet regularly before and after becoming a manager.

Once a year, generally when the season was over, they would enjoy a long lunch at the famous El Bulli restaurant on the Costa Brava. It was an excuse to chat, drink wine, eat well and have afternoon sea baths.

Johan Cruyff photographed during his time as boss of Barcelona

Dutchman Johan Cruyff was a huge influence on Guardiola and they remained close until his death in March 2016

Can you imagine? Cruyff and Guardiola, two of world football's great innovators, enjoying the creative genius of El Bulli owner Ferran Adria, a great culinary inventor and gastronomic inspiration to so many of the world's great chefs.

The principles are the same. It is not just about being the best at playing the game or cooking the best meal, but more about changing the way the game is played and how the food is served and perceived - while having fun in the process.

Innovation, genius and talent combined with total dedication and unstinting toil and effort comes in many forms, be they sporting or culinary.

In a way, where else would the likes of Cruyff and Guardiola celebrate the end of a campaign?

However, Cruyff is by no means the only influence. Another is Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, the man known affectionately as 'El Loco' - the madman.

The former Chile and Argentina boss - most recently the head coach of Lille at club level - is a man of huge influence but relatively few trophies.

"It is important for me to say this about Marcelo because it doesn't matter how many titles he had in his career," Guardiola has said.

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