“The most generous man in the world. Thank you to your family for always helping me so much. I love you,” reads Pep Guardiola’s note in Dr Ramon Cugat’s office, the words etched across a picture of the Manchester City boss winning the 2009 Champions League.
If City want to be the world’s best football team, they need to work with the world’s best medical professionals and Guardiola’s long-lasting relationship with renowned doctor Cugat has played an important role in the Catalan’s unrivalled success over the years.
Behind Guardiola’s every triumph, from Champions League nights to sauntering to domestic major honours around Europe, there have been two constants underpinning his every achievement — the stylish manner in which his teams play and the expertise of Cugat.
Guardiola has described Cugat as “the best doctor in the world” and his admiration for the orthopaedic surgeon began decades ago when the City boss sustained a hamstring injury playing for Barcelona, which the club’s doctors were unable to solve.
Sign up to get even more from our Man City coverage
We want your views, Blues. You can become even more involved with our Man City coverage by signing up. This will unlock a whole host of things – including joining the comments and taking part in our special Q&As, where you can speak directly to our reporters about what’s happening at the Etihad Stadium this week and beyond.
With Barcelona’s medical team failing to get Guardiola back onto the pitch, he was sent to Cugat who duly found the solution to the City boss’ problem, helping him making a swift recovery before also helping him with an ankle injury with a pioneering technique.
After hanging up his boots and turning to management, Guardiola has always stood by the work of Cugat and he’s insisted on the injured players under his stewardship visiting the Spanish surgeon, who is now almost as famous and well regarded as his patients.
Cugat has helped some of football’s biggest names such as Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Carles Puyol, Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o across the years while he’s also worked on getting City’s players back to fitness from the treatment table.
Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have all recovered from serious injuries thanks to the help of Cugat and Ilkay Gunodgan, Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy are other notable patients that have recently benefitted from his practice.
It’s therefore not surprising that Guardiola has turned to Cugat again this summer, with it believed that De Bruyne visited the specialist with an ankle complaint last week and it said that Phil Foden went in July after sustaining ligament damage in his foot.
“Phil will be out for a while, a tough injury, we have to be careful with it,” Guardiola said on Foden’s injury at the weekend.
With the new season fast approaching and City set to play Tottenham away on Sunday afternoon, the work of Cugat behind the scenes will be as important as ever if Guardiola’s side are to successfully defend their Premier League title this term.
If anyone can help City get their stars back onto the pitch, history suggests the man nicknamed the ‘Messi of medicine’ can.