The 25th anniversary of Pep Guardiola's debut with FC Barcelona

This photo shows the young Josep Guardiola in his very first game with FC Barcelona on 16 December 1990. / HORACIO SEGUÍ - FCB
The legendary Catalan midfielder made his first appearance in a La Liga match against Cádiz at Camp Nou, a game which Barça won 2–0

He went on to play in 389 games and win 19 titles while donning the blaugrana shirt

Wednesday marks 25 years since Josep Guardiola made his debut with FC Barcelona.

Back on 16 December 1990 Guardiola took the field for the Catalans in a league game versus Cádiz at Camp Nou. He put in a solid performance in midfield, giving the Barça faithful a taste of what was to come.

Guardiola had already participated in a friendly, in Banyoles the spring before, on 1 May 1989, but his first official test would not come until the game against Cádiz.

With Barça midfielder Guillermo Amor out with an injury that day, head coach Johan Cruyff turned to the 19-year-old Guardiola who, until that point, had been having a fabulous season for Barça B.

Nerves of steel

Guardiola, accustomed to playing in front of small crowds with Barça B, took the field at Camp Nou that day in front of 75,000 screaming fans. But the young Guardiola, wearing the number 10 on his back, refused to be intimidated.

He took the field with nary a hint of nervousness and exuded the confidence of a seasoned veteran when he joined Andoni Zubizarreta, Nando Muñoz, José Ramón Alexanko, Eusebio Sacristán, Ricardo Serna, José Mari Bakero, Ion Andoni Goikoetxea, Michael Laudrup, Julio Salinas and Txiki Begiristain for the pre-game picture of that day’s starting XI.

When the referee’s whistle signaled the start of the game, Pep Guardiola did what he did best: play football.

Solid first performance

While Guardiola’s feet meticulously and masterfully controlled the ball, his head was focused on making sure his debut would not be used as an excuse should Barça not end up winning.

When the final whistle sounded, though, Guardiola had been very good and Barça had a 2–0 win on goals from Begiristain and Bakero, and were now six points clear of second-placed Atlético Madrid.

That 1990/91 season would see Barça win the first of four straight La Liga titles won by the so-called Dream Team.

The beginning of an era

Guardiola’s polished technique and superb vision of the game was something Barça fans had been longing for. He finished the 1990/91 season with Barça B and only played four more games with the first team. The next season, however, his place was solidified and he made 40 appearances for FC Barcelona.

It wasn’t long before he was a bona fide star on team that spent a decade racking up triumphs. Guardiola’s personal achievements added up to 389 games played and 19 titles.

Years later he would go on to become the most successful coach in Club history with 14 titles in four seasons, from 2008 to 12, including the first treble in Barça history and an unprecedented sextuple, both coming in 2009.