'A champion of sport and in life' – Heynckes in emotional Tito Vilanova tribute

The former Bayern Munich coach was in Barcelona to present an award to the ex-Blaugrana boss on Monday and dedicated some special words to the Catalan, who is battling cancer

Former Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes paid tribute to ex-Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova in an emotional speech in the Catalan capital on Monday night.

Heynckes was a special guest at the annual Mundo Deportivo gala and the 68-year-old dedicated some special words to Tito, who won the award for best coach but stayed at home to continue with his battle against cancer.

With Vilanova absent, Heynckes presented the prize to Barca’s sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and read an emotive speech in immaculate Spanish.

“It’s a great honour and a joy for me to be at this great gala and present this award to a distiniguished person: Tito Vilanova, ” the former Bayern boss said. “With Tito, the team played fantastic football like in previous years.”

And he added: “Tito is a great strategist. He’s hard-working, reserved and brave – and he has a fluid relationship with the players.

“He is an example for the world of sport and the world in general – a gentleman. We wish you luck [in your recovery] – you deserve it. You’re a champion of sport and in life – and in me you’ll have a friend for life.”

Heynckes also presented a gift to Zubizarreta for Vilanova on behalf of himself and Bayern’s general manager Uli Hoeness.

“He summed up Tito in the way few have been able to,” Zubizarreta said of Heynckes. “Tito couldn’t be here [tonight] but is grateful to you all for this award. He is getting the care and attention he needs.”

Heynckes’ Bayern beat Vilanova’s Barca in the semi-finals of the Champions League last season, en route to their treble success, before Tito’s friend and former ally on the Camp Nou bench Pep Guardiola took charge of the German champions.

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