Barcelona Coach Vilanova to Have Surgery for Cancer Relapse

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has suffered a relapse after cancer treatment last year and will have surgery tomorrow, the four-time European champion soccer team said.

Vilanova had a tumor removed from a throat gland in November 2011 when he was assistant coach to Pep Guardiola, returning to work two weeks later. He’s had a “parotid ailment relapse,” Barcelona said on its website.

He will remain in the hospital for “three to four days” before undergoing about six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Barcelona said.

“During this time, and depending on how well he recovers, Vilanova’s treatment may be compatible with his work life,” the team said in a statement.

His assistant Jordi Roura will lead the team for its next game at Real Valladolid on Dec. 22, Barcelona President Sandro Rosell told reporters.

Vilanova, 44, is four months into his stint as Barcelona coach and has overseen its most successful start to a league season, with 15 wins and a draw in 16 games.

Barcelona leads the league by nine points over Atletico Madrid with defending champion Real Madrid four points further back in third. Barcelona is also through to this season’s round of 16 in the Champions League and is scheduled to find out its opponent tomorrow.

Vilanova was promoted after Guardiola left his post in May to take a sabbatical from soccer. Guardiola led Barcelona to two of its four European titles to become the most successful coach in the team’s history.

Former Midfielder

Vilanova was a midfielder in Barcelona’s youth squad, although never played a league match for the first team. He represented clubs including Celta Vigo.

Tennis player Rafael Nadal and soccer player David Silva were among those to voice support for Vilanova today on social networking site Twitter.

“All my support and best wishes to Tito and all of the people in the world fighting every day against cancer,” Manchester City’s Silva said. “Be strong.”

Real Madrid issued a statement offering “love and support” for the Barcelona coach.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at at celser@bloomberg.net

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