Former Barcelona and Spain manager Luis Enrique has paid tribute to his nine-year-old daughter after she passed away from osteosarcoma – a form of bone cancer.
The 49-year-old released a statement on Twitter Thursday evening confirming Xana’s death and thanking hospital staff for their care over an “intense five months.”
“We will miss you lots but we will remember you every day of our lives, with the hope that in the future we’ll meet each other again,” read the statement.
“You’ll be the star that guides our family.”
The Spaniard, who stepped down from his role as Spain’s national boss in June to spend time with his family, thanked those who sent good wishes but asked for “discretion and understanding.”
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) led the tributes online, saying it “mourned the sad loss of little Xana.”
“We want to show our condolences to family and friends, joining us all today to their pain,” it tweeted.
A host of Enrique’s former players also paid their respects to young Xana, among them Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.
“We are with you, all the strength of the world,” the Argentine wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Spain and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea said he was “speechless,” while Enrique’s former club Barcelona offered “condolences and all our sympathy.”
Tennis legend Rafael Nadal also sent his condolence to the family. Nadal’s uncle Miguel Ángel Nadal is a former Barcelona and national teammate of Enrique.
“I am very sad and I cannot imagine the pain of the family. A huge hug to Luis Enrique and the whole family from a distance. A lot of strength and courage in these hard times,” he tweeted.
A host of clubs, including Manchester United, also paid their respects.
Enrique enjoyed a successful playing career, representing Spain on 62 occasions. He also won three Spanish La Liga titles, once with Real Madrid and twice with rivals Barcelona.
He continued such success as a coach, winning the Champions League during his time at the Nou Camp, in addition to two domestic titles and three Copa del Rey trophies.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu expressed his sympathy, writing: “All of our support and compassion goes to Luis Enrique, his wife and all of his family at this particularly painful time.”