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Reaction to Pep Guardiola leaving Barcelona

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Reaction to Pep Guardiola's announcement Friday that he will step down as Barcelona coach at the end of the season to be replaced by his assistant, Tito Vilanova:

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''He should be very proud of his career with his club, no one will ever match what he has done. Especially when you consider the level of what he has achieved, the image he has shown, his behavior - I'm sure it was the best decision for him and for Barca. He was a great example for all, a Spanish coach which has represented (our football) very well.'' - Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, speaking to The Associated Press.

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''I want to thank Pep with all my heart for everything he has given me personally and professionally.'' - Lionel Messi, on his Facebook page.

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''Many thanks for everything Pep!!! You showed us the way... A big hug.'' - Barcelona captain Carles Puyol on Twitter.

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''Many thanks to Pep for giving us so much. Four years filled with victories, joys and, above all, lessons in football.'' - Barcelona defender Gerard Pique on Twitter.

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''Although I only was with him for 1 year it felt like a lot more. For me Pep was my hero as a kid ... and an inspiration as a manager. Thank you for the little time we spent, I will cherish it always.'' - Cesc Fabregas on Twitter. The midfielder returned to Barcelona from Arsenal last year after coming through the youth system at the Spanish club.

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''What a coach, what a manager. He's a great guy, a role model with many years as a coach ahead of him. I am not sure anyone can replicate what he has done at Barcelona.'' - Chelsea coach Roberto di Matteo, whose team beat Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals.

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''A Barca myth, the last Mohican of the Cruyff era. We'll never again have a coach capable of winning six titles in one year, which is practically impossible.'' - Hristo Stoichkov, former Barcelona player, speaking on COM Radio.

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''The philosophy of Barcelona has to be bigger than winning or losing a championship. Guardiola is one of the representatives of this philosophy and made this philosophy triumph so I would have loved him, even going through a disappointing year, to stay and come back and insist with his philosophy. That would be interesting.'' - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

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''Today we learned the coach's news and I only want to give him and his team thanks for all of these years, without forgetting there is still some season left to play.'' - Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta on Twitter.

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''Thanks Pep, for everything you have given the club, for perfecting a style of football that will never be questioned again, for your kindness and support. You have earned the eternal gratitude of all Barcelona fans as the best coach in the history of our club.'' - Barcelona president Sandro Rosell.

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''Thanks Pep, for everything you have given us and everything you will give us! Much luck, Tito!'' - Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta, who hired Guardiola.

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''You reached the absolute top of football and you'll never drop from up there! We'll be eternally grateful. THANKS PEP!'' Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara on Twitter.

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