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Guardiola mentor Lillo: 'Pep will make Bayern's team better players and people. That's success'

By Patrick Sung, CNN
updated 11:33 AM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
Pep Guardiola has been on a year-long sabbatical in the U.S. after stepping down as Barcelona coach, but he returned to Europe in January for the Ballon d'Or when he was shortlisted for FIFA's world coach of the year award. Pep Guardiola has been on a year-long sabbatical in the U.S. after stepping down as Barcelona coach, but he returned to Europe in January for the Ballon d'Or when he was shortlisted for FIFA's world coach of the year award.
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Time away
End of an era
League of his own
Flying high
A super bond
Cup runneth over
A golden career
Six-time champs
Player turned coach
Barcelona boy
Academy graduate
Italy calling
World class
Golfing fan
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pep Guardiola's mentor Juanma Lillo says his former player will be a success at Bayern
  • Former Barcelona coach Guardiola called Lillo the best manager he ever played under
  • Lillo says Guardiola will make Bayern's squad better players and better people
  • Guardiola will join the German giants in July after a year's sabbatical from soccer

(CNN) -- Few can claim to have had a bigger impact on the glittering coaching career of new Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola than Juan Manuel Lillo.

Guardiola won a remarkable 14 trophies in his four years at Barcelona and regards the relatively unknown Spanish coach as his mentor.

Lillo took his first coaching job at the tender age of 16 and went on to manage 13 clubs in his 19-year career, including Mexican side Dorados Sinaloa, where Guardiola finished his playing career.

The pair met after Lillo had led lowly UD Salamanca to the top flight when he was still just 29 and a firm friendship began.

Read: Guardiola agrees three-year deal with Bayern

Ironically, an 8-0 Spanish league defeat by Guardiola's Barcelona lost Lillo his last coaching job, at Almeria, but the 47-year-old remains a keen student of the game.

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CNN World Sport caught up with Lillo to ask him about his relationship with Guardiola and his thoughts on the Spaniard's move to the league-leading German Bundesliga club.

Do you think Guardiola will have a lot of success at Bayern? For example, another Champions League, a league title or two?

That's something no one knows, it's all up in the air. What I do know is that he will give them a playing style that will allow them to succeed and that he will help make those players into better people and better footballers. For me, that is what success is.

If the ball hits the post instead of going in the goal, no one knows. What I do think is that he will be able to take them to a level where they are always right there in a position to win.

But who knows if a Chelsea comes and sends you home despite you having them on their back heels next to their own goal for 70 minutes of the match -- that's football.

Do you think Bayern was a good choice?

Who am I to say what is a good or bad choice for someone else, but I think people will wait to see if it goes well or badly for him to say it was a good choice.

Personally, I think it was a good choice because they have quite a few players that have that criteria and quality he looks for in various positions.

They have already had success playing a similar style and have tasted what it can bring them, and finally they have the money to be able to go out and get the players that they currently lack to be able to play his way.

We're also talking about one of the most important clubs of all time, that has a long history and currently has a very strong squad. I think they're a really good team and that both of them made a good choice.

What emerged from his playing days was a man concerned with the collective. He's a very involved manager
Juan Manuel Lillo, Spanish coach

What did you see in Pep the first time you saw him play?

The first time I saw him play, it made me so ecstatic that he could always keep the entire team in his head and know what to do in each situation to benefit the whole team. And he was so young when he did that! That ability to make everyone around him better...

Knowing all that, did you think he would be a good coach?

You've got to remember that I've always seen a coach that used to play, never a player that used to coach. Saying that, similar to a guard in basketball or a center back court player in handball, he was a rigorous organizer.

What emerged from his playing days was a man concerned with the collective. He's a very involved manager; it has something to do with his personality, I think.

He's a very good person. He's the type of person who thinks of solidarity, of the needs of everyone else, so of course his style of play was like his personality.

Did his success at Barcelona surprise you?

Pepe Guardiola and his successor Tito Vilanova sit in the dug out during the Copa del Rey final win. Pepe Guardiola and his successor Tito Vilanova sit in the dug out during the Copa del Rey final win.
Passing the torch
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Barcelona say farewell to Guardiola with Copa del Rey win Barcelona say farewell to Guardiola with Copa del Rey win
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The Special One
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One special career for Jose One special career for Jose
Pep Guardiola waved goodbye to Barcelona on Friday in the only way he knows how -- by winning a trophy. The club's victory in the Spanish Cup final took his haul of trophies to 14 during his four years in charge.
Pep Guardiola waved goodbye to Barcelona on Friday in the only way he knows how -- by winning a trophy. The club's victory in the Spanish Cup final took his haul of trophies to 14 during his four years in charge.
Guardiola's long goodbye
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How Pep Guardiola reinvented football How Pep Guardiola reinvented football

People forget he worked his way up from the second team at Barcelona. They didn't have the first-team players, but it was still a difficult category with a lot of nuances. He earned his marks there and then went on to win titles.

Winning a title sometimes obviously requires a bit of luck -- if luck isn't with you, you won't win anything -- and he also had players like Messi.

With people like that it makes it that much easier, but regardless, the merits of Pep are that he gave them a style, a criteria of play. He gave them an order ... he's given them lots of things that allowed them to succeed.

Do you think part of his decision to choose Bayern was because of the stability it offers as opposed to, for example, Chelsea?

I don't know if Pep made his decision thinking in the negative aspects of other clubs. Knowing him a bit, I think he made this decision solely because of what he liked at this club rather than what he didn't like at another club.

Pep follows his heart a lot, so if he liked this club, he liked it, that's it. He didn't stop to think "in this place, there's this. In this other place there's that." No. I don't know if Chelsea even came to him, we just know that Bayern made a move for him.

Do you think if he has a lot of success at Bayern, he would go to another country/club for another challenge?

I don't know, we have to wait and see. What I will say is that he's the type of person who just because things are going well, he won't necessarily stay there. And if things are going badly, he won't necessarily leave just because things are bad.

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