All this we know, so let’s look at Guardiola the player. Here's a man who made the defensive midfield role cool.
Under Johan Cruyff, a father figure to Guardiola at Barcelona, he became the lynchpin of the side. He defined that no.4 role and organised the team from the middle of the park.
He was never the quickest, but his passing was devastating and his positioning excellent, giving the opposition little chance of mounting an attack on the defenders he was protecting.
Guardiola joined the youth ranks at Barca in 1984 and soon caught the eye of Cruyff’s assistant, Carles Rexach. As Marti Perarnau explains in his book, Pep Confidential, the young Barca ace set out to maximise his talents, conscious of his own failings and worked on his strength and the technical of the game.
“Pep prided himself on his ability to anticipate the next move even before he had the ball at his feet and delighted in using his passing to trick opponents and break through their lines,” he explained.
Whereas the trend today is to play with two holding midfielders, Guardiola preferred to go it alone during the Dream Team days of Barcelona. He felt the presence of a team-mate limited his space and ability to anticipate things.
“As a young player, Guardiola was already forming the football philosophy he would later implement so successfully as a coach,” Perarnau explained.
This high speed attacking football as the best form of defence turned Barca into a European juggernaut – two Champions Leagues in three years under him – and he’s continuing to dominate at Bayern.
When he left Barca for Brescia in Italy in 2001 he had won six league titles, the European Cup, the Cup Winners Cup and two Spanish Cups.
And we all know what he did when he returned as coach where his legacy as a player remains, with current no.4 Ivan Rakitic choosing the shirt because of Guardiola, who chose it because Ronald Koeman had donned it at the Camp Nou.