Pep Guardiola believes his Barcelona side of 2008-2012 were a team who came along ‘once in a lifetime’ as ‘it was a unique moment of the stars aligning’.
Guardiola had no top-level experience before he replaced Frank Rijkaard in 2008, yet the Catalan led Barca to the most successful period of their history, winning three Liga titles and two Champions Leagues.
Furthermore, the Manchester City boss helped pioneer the high-pressing, short-passing style currently in fashion.
“Johan Cruijff was the most important person that I worked with, as he opened my eyes with his style of football,” he said at an event in Italy, alongside former Real Madrid Coach Carlo Ancelotti and ex-Atletico tactician Arrigo Sacchi.
“He helped us all understand a different way of looking at football. It was like going to school every day. We would win and he’d tell us the reason we were winning. He made us fall in love.
“It’s no coincidence that so many players who worked under Sacchi and Cruyff are now Coaches, because their minds were opened. They gave us new love for the sport.
“I didn’t invent tiki-taka. We won the Champions League with Barcelona and a team full of players who had started in the academy at the age of 8-10.
It was a unique moment of the stars aligning, with the faith of the club and a group of lads who all saw football the same way.
“We could’ve signed bigger stars, but wanted to cultivate that hunger. To be honest, I don’t really like tiki-taka much as a concept, but we knew exactly where we wanted to go with the ball.
“There is nostalgia for it now, but it was wonderful to experience it. We’ll see if they still talk about it in 10-20 years, much like they do with great movies.
“Messi is introverted as a person, but he’s a fierce and competitive animal. That helps those around him to play even better.
“He hates losing, he still plays like when he was little and in the big moments, if the team accompany him, he makes the difference. It’s something that happens once in a lifetime.”