Soccer

Vilanova says goodbye to Barcelona in letter

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP)

Tito Vilanova has thanked Barcelona, its players and fans for ''five wonderful years'' the day after the club announced he was stepping down to fight his recurring throat cancer.

Vilanova writes in an open letter on Barcelona's website that ''the moment has arrived to face a change in my professional life and dedicate my energies and efforts to following a treatment for an illness doctors diagnosed a year and a half ago.''

Vilanova had previously twice been obliged to take a medical leave after consecutive surgeries to remove tumors from a saliva gland.

Barcelona said it will name his successor next week with the Spanish league season set to start on Aug. 17.

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