Football

Five of the best: Pep Guardiola moments

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Pep Guardiola lowered the curtain on his Barcelona career for the last time on Friday evening, as victory over Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey handed the 41-year-old a 14th trophy during an unprecedented spell of success with Blaugrana.

Rarely is a manager afforded the opportunity to leave a club with a reputation untarnished, but Guardiola departs the Nou Camp on his own terms and with a record the envy of all managers.

To celebrate Guardiola's trophy-laden four year spell as the club's manager, GMF takes a look back at five moments that made the former Barcelona midfielder...

Real Madrid put to the sword








Things hardly started as planned when Guardiola was awarded the top job at the Nou Camp, with Barcelona winning only one of their first four matches of the season, including a defeat against newly-promoted Numancia on the opening day of La Liga.

Yet Barca steadily began to gel under Guardiola's stewardship, and went on an unbeaten run of over 20 games in the league to reinforce their chances of claiming a first title since 2006.

An encounter with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in early May was billed as a title-decider, and Barca hammered their great rivals 6-2 to seize the initiative as the season reached its conclusion.

Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi scored two goals apiece, while Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique also got on the scoresheet in a famous victory.

Barca's title triumph was confirmed two weeks later, at the Primera Division crown became Guardiola's second, following the Copa del Rey win three days previous.

Champions League glory








Barcelona broke new ground when they triumphed over Manchester United in Rome to claim a third Champions League title, as they became the first side in Spanish football to win the Treble.

League and cup success had come earlier in May 2009 for Guardiola during his first season at the helm, but the ultimate prize represented the zenith of his maiden campaign.

Samuel Eto'o, who Guardiola had considered allowing to leave the previous summer, opened the scoring in the Stadio Olimpico inside only ten minutes before Lionel Messi added an uncharacteristic header in the second-half.

By outmanoeuvring Sir Alex Ferguson, Guardiola became the youngest manager to ever win the Champions League, aged only 38 at the time.

Six of the best








Following an unprecedented spell of success during his first year as Barcelona's manager, Guardiola added a fourth and fifth trophy to his collection in the first few weeks of the following season, with victory in the Supercopa de España and Uefa Super Cup.

Guardiola's record stood at five competition wins from five competition entries in little over 12 months at the helm, and this record was soon bettered before the close of the year.

On December 19, Barcelona triumphed 2-1 over Estudiantes in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi to claim a sixth trophy in the calendar year - the first time ever such a feat had been achieved.

As 2009 came to a close, Guardiola had won every single competition he had entered as Barcelona manager.

Wembley return








When Barcelona won the European Cup for the first time in their history with a triumph at Wembley in 1992, Guardiola operated as the pivot in Johan Cruyff's Dream Team.

Guardiola's influence was vital for Barca that evening as they beat Sampdoria at football's most famous of arenas, and the former was able to return as Blaugrana manager some 19 years later.

Manchester United once again stood in the way of Barca and Champions League glory, but victory rarely looked in doubt as the latter secured Europe's top honour for the second time under Guardiola's stewardship.

Wayne Rooney had cancelled out Pedro's earlier opener, but further goals from David Villa and Lionel Messi secured a tenth major honour for Guardiola.

Last goodbye








On April 21, Guardiola conceded the title to Real Madrid following defeat at the Nou Camp and, only three days later, a 2-2 draw with Chelsea saw the latter progress to the final of the Champions League.

It was Guardiola's worst week in almost four years as Barcelona boss and, on April 27, he announced that he would step down at the end of the season in order to take a much needed break from football.

However, there were still more honours to be contested before the end of the season, and Guardiola's last game at the helm came in the final of the Copa del Rey last week.

A brace from Pedro and a 73rd goal of the season for Lionel Messi provided Barca with a comfortable win over Athletic Bilbao, and ensured Guardiola signed off in style with a 14th trophy.

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