Guardiola, even after working for City for seven years, does not hide his sympathy for Barcelona. He openly admits that he is still a member (member of the Catalan club). Pep has a degree from Barça and spent almost his entire football career with this team. He joined the academy when he was 13 years old and left the club only 17 years later.
He then played a bit in Italy for Brescia and Roma (where he didn’t particularly impress Fabio Capello). Well, then more non-standard leagues for a European appeared in his career. Even now, the Qatari and Mexican championships seem exotic, and 20 years ago he was even more unknown.
Qatar: Guardiola commanded other players in physics, technique and tactics
The Qatari football championship has existed since the 1972/1973 season, but in 2003 there was a breakthrough. Thanks to the country’s oil revenues, the Local Football Federation (QFA) allocated $10 million to each club. Players like Gabriel Batistuta, Romario, Ronald and Frank de Boer, Fernando Hierro, Marcel Desailly, Stefan Effenberg, Claudio Caniggia fell into the league. Along with them came Guardiola. It was reported that he earned $4 million in two years and for the sake of Qatar he turned down an offer from Manchester United.
The Spaniard in 2003 signed a contract with the oldest club in the country Al-Ahly. Already in the first season, he and the team reached the Asian Champions League, where he reached the semifinals. At that time, the Qatar national team periodically changed the coaching staff. In 2004, Pep trained with Pepe. This, of course, is not about the Portuguese defender, but about the Brazilian coach, who, back in 1958 and 1962, won the world championship with Pele.
Josep Guardiola in Qatar
Photo: Al Ahli
This is what Pepe had to say about working with Guardiola at Al Ahli: “He was obsessed with details and was essentially an assistant coach. A player who commanded others, in terms of physics, technology and tactics. Guardiola spoke five languages and discussed with me the championships in Germany, Spain, France and the Champions League. And he also asked about Brazilian soccer and its extraordinary players.
The biography “Guardiola: another way to win” reveals that in Qatar, the midfielder spent his free time lounging by the pool of the complex where he lived with Batistuta, Hierro and Kanigja. The journalist Gabriele Marcotti traveled to Doha in 2004 to interview Pep. The reporter pointed out that he met a sad player, but not bitter.
“I think that footballers like me have become extinct because the game has become more tactical and physical. Less time to think. In most clubs, footballers are assigned specific roles and their creativity can only exist within those parameters,” Guardiola said. At that time he was 33 years old.
The eternal debate on greatness in football:
Guardiola has already changed football. It doesn’t matter if Man City have a treble or not
England: Guardiola trained with Manchester City, but terminated contract after one game
After Al Ahli, Guardiola was close to becoming a Manchester City player. Pep even went to England for a trial and worked with the team for a week. Then City was not like today’s club, which is called the strongest in the world. It was an average player who had the most expensive transfer in history: Georgios Samaras for £6 million.
Former City striker Andy Cole said: “I was training one day when Pep joined us. I immediately recognized him because I played against him. Few other City players realized it was Guardiola. He spoke English and was friendly. We remember the matches between them when Manchester United faced their Barcelona Pep wanted to play in the Premier League and he showed his class in our classes I think manager Stuart Pearce wanted to keep him but he should have pushed the club more which he couldn’t offer newcomers a lot,” Cole said in an interview with Yahoo Sports.
And if you go back another 100 years:
The only manager to have worked at both Manchester United and City. He has an amazing story
It was reported that the Spaniard was offered a six-month contract, but he refused. Guardiola decided that it would be better for him to retire from football than to go to Manchester City. As for Stuart Pearce, he later explained to Sky Sports: “We really didn’t have much to offer. If I knew what a good coach he is, I could get my job!”
Guardiola’s move to City was handled by agent Toni Shkari, who expected the deal to be the biggest of his career. According to him, Pep was the best in training and dominated in ball control. The agent believes that the 34-year-old midfielder decided to terminate the contract after the match “City” – “West Brom” (0:0) in the first round, when the game was based on primitive throws of the ball forward. . “Pep understood that it would be a square plug in a round hole,” Shkari said in an interview with MEN Sport.
Manchester City vs. Norwich in 2005
Photo: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Mexico: it seems that Guardiola’s money was found thanks to the drug cartel
As a result, in the summer of 2005, Guardiola did not go anywhere. He was left without a team and began to study to be a coach. For six months it was believed that he was ending his career, but in January 2006, however, he resumed it. And suddenly in the Mexican club Dorados de Sinaloa. Although the explanation was quite simple: Guardiola went to a team managed by his friend Juan Manuel Lillo (later, in 2020, he became Manchester City’s assistant coach in place of Mikel Arteta).
Guardiola’s first press conference in Mexico took place at the Guadalajara airport. The midfielder wore the “Welcome home, Pep” shirt, he posed against the background of the club’s shield with a fish and immediately assured that he had not come to visit the beaches. He even said that Dorado would not fly out of the Mexican championship. It is difficult to say if this was a promise or just a prediction, but in any case it did not come true. The team ranked eighth, but still left the Mexican championship, since according to the regulations the results of the last four seasons were taken into account.
Guardiola in a presentation in Dorados
Photo: FC Dorados de Sinaloa
Pep played 10 games with Dorados and scored one goal. He could have been more, but injuries prevented it. In addition to the main job at the club, Guardiola continued the training course, when he was early in the morning in Mexico. And at night, over a glass of wine, Pep talked about football with the Dorados coach. In addition, he must take into account the conditions in which the club existed. The training took place on the territory of the water park, and instead of a locker room, there was only a gazebo with a thatched roof. As The Guardian noted, the players couldn’t even take a shower after class, because there weren’t any: the water park itself was closed for the season.
The club was on the verge of bankruptcy, which is surprising for this region. The state of Sinaloa was known as a center of drug trafficking. A cartel ruled there, headed by notorious crime boss El Chapo. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration called him more influential than Pablo Escobar. Money from the criminal business infiltrated most of the region’s institutions, including churches, according to Esquire. “90% of organized crime in the country is from Sinaloa,” former Mexican Federal Police Commander Guillermo González told ESPN.
The next World Cup will also take place in Mexico:
The new World Cup format is crazy. The number of games has almost doubled!
There is no unequivocal data to state at the expense of whose money the club lived (formally it had three investors), but there are several facts. The stadium was built in record time and the club entered the Mexican championship in the first year of its existence. Both required large investments.
“No one knows exactly how much Guardiola was paid or where the money came from. Conditions at the club were extremely difficult, but they brought it. How they were able to pay is a mystery,” said local journalist Bernardino Chávez, author of Soccer and drug trafficking in Sinaloa.
After Dorados, Guardiola had other offers. For example, from the Argentine ‘Banfield’, but the Spaniard decided that he had had enough. And he ended his career.