Jose Mourinho pays respects to Tito Vilanova

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Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has sent his “deepest condolences” to the friends and family of former Barcelona head coach Tito Vilanova, who has died at the age of 45.

Vilanova tragically lost his long battle with cancer earlier today - and the world of football, including former Real Madrid coach Mourinho, have been paying their respects to one of Spanish football’s most popular figures.

“Tito Vilanova's passing is a sad day for football, for Barcelona and most importantly for his family and friends,” the Blues’ boss said in a statement issued via Chelsea’s official website. “On behalf of everybody at Chelsea Football Club I send my deepest condolences at this most difficult time.”

Mourinho issued a heartfelt apology after poking Vilanova in the eye during a particularly tempestuous Spanish Super Cup Clasico between La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona in 2011.

“I should not have done what I did, obviously not,” Mourinho told Fox Sports in August 2012. “The person who messed up there was me.”

The two coaches had made their peace - and Mourinho stated at the start of this season that if he had three wishes, he would use one of them to cure the health problems of the ex-Barcelona boss, who won the La Liga title last season in his one and only campaign in charge of the Catalan giants.

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