Having managed Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, Pep Guardiola has been blessed to coach lots of world-class footballers.
A success everywhere he’s been, Guardiola’s managerial career has been synonymous with era-defining stars like Lionel Messi, Thomas Muller and Kevin De Bruyne. He’s also worked with a fair few names that you’d be forgiven for not knowing he ever coached – given they became famous before or after their time together.
Here are nine players you (probably) totally forgot ever played under Guardiola.
More familiar with Premier League watchers after his eye-catching stints with Everton and Sevilla, Deulofeu came up through Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy and was handed his senior professional debut during Guardiola’s legendary stint as manager.
But the Spanish winger only made a couple of appearances, totalling 47 minutes, under the famous tactician – substitute cameos when things were done and dusted against BATE Borisov and Mallorca during Guardiola’s final season in charge.
“I only had Guardiola as a manager for a little time but he was the only one who tried to really explain things to me when I was young,” Deulofeu later recalled.
Another of Guardiola’s La Masia debutants that forged his path away from his boyhood club, these days Romeu is back in Catalonia turning out for Girona – who earned promotion back to La Liga via the Segunda play-offs last term.
The hard-working midfielder made over 200 Premier League appearances for Southampton after a four-year stint on the fringes at Chelsea.
But it all started at Barcelona and a nine-minute debut in the late stages of an inconsequential late-season 0-0 draw with Deportivo La Coruna in May 2011.
Guardiola and Reina actually made 30 appearances alongside one another in the underwhelming 2000-01 campaign, in which Barcelona finished fourth and trophyless.
Reina was a young academy graduate breaking through while Guardiola was at the other end of his career, a grizzled veteran club captain playing out his final season for his hometown club before moving to Brescia.
But it was elsewhere that Reina played under Guardiola. Reina was drafted in at Guardiola’s Bayern Munich in 2014 – he spent one season in Bavaria serving as back-up to Manuel Neuer and made three appearances in all competitions.
Those that have read Marti Perarnau’s fascinating Pep Confidential will recall how Guardiola took a young Hojbjerg under his wing at Bayern Munich and supported him after the tragic death of the young midfielder’s father – just five days after he made his debut for the club.
Hojbjerg made 23 appearances for Guardiola’s Bayern, but was loaned out and eventually moved on. He’s now a Tottenham stalwart, having earned the move after impressing at Southampton.
“He is the most demanding person, not only coach, that I have ever met,” Hojbjerg told The Times back in 2018.
“He always told me about controlling the game with or without the ball. To make the player you play against react to you, not you to him.
“He used to say to me, ‘Pierre, the most important thing is, if they are close to you, go out and if they are open, you go in, but you need to read it.’ He would say: ‘You need to tell me after one minute, how do they play.’
“We sit on the bus [at Bayern] after we have won and he sits on the bus watching the game and then he is in his office with two laptops and a television and he is analysing.
“Maybe that’s what makes him the greatest. But also maybe that is what makes him lose, because it is too much, he drowns. I don’t judge him but he is the greatest teacher I have had.”
Guardiola’s tenure as Manchester City manager has seen the club transition away from the legends that preceded him at the Etihad – David Silva, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero.
But Hart never really had a chance to progress under the Catalan coach, who made the ruthless decision to move on from Hart due to his concerns over the goalkeeper’s inability to play out from the back.
The keeper did make one appearance for Guardiola’s City, at least – the second leg of an (already all but won) Champions League qualifier against Steau Bucharest. Hart kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 win before moving to Torino on loan.
Still, Guardiola was aware of Hart’s role in the two Premier League titles City won prior to his arrival and namechecked the former England international after they reached their first Champions League final in 2021.
“Congratulations to the owners who took over the club and tried to invest and support. People believe it is just about money. If they want to believe that, okay, but it is not just that, it is all departments and the facilities we have,” he told reporters.
“Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta – many players who help get us in this position now. It belongs to them and I am pretty sure they will support us in three weeks.
“I am so proud of the guys. We have done an amazing Champions League and we are there.”
The Spanish midfielder has had a strange, back-and-forth career between some of Europe’s glamour clubs. He’ll be turning out for Real Madrid next season after his parent club have decided to reintegrate him after three years away on loan at AC Milan.
Diaz actually made his breakthrough on the fringes of Guardiola’s Man City after joining as a teenager from Malaga in 2015. He played considerably more minutes in the youth ranks and never moved beyond the periphery of the first team – just 15 appearances, four as a starter – before he sealed a £15.5million transfer to the Bernabeu in 2019.
Pep Guardiola says the club did all they could to keep highly-rated teenager Brahim Díaz from leaving Manchester City for Real Madrid pic.twitter.com/pnNApAKxRW
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 8, 2019
Lukas & Felix Nmecha
The Hamburg-born Nmecha brothers moved to the UK as children and were snapped up by City’s academy at early ages after catching the eye of local Wythenshawe scouts.
Older sibling Lukas had more loans away (four) than games for Guardiola’s City – with time spent developing at Preston, Wolfsburg, Middlesbrough and Anderlecht before returning to Germany to sign for Wolfsburg on a permanent deal in 2021.
The winger is now a regular Germany international after representing England at six youth levels, including a place in their Euro 2017-winning Under-19 squad.
Like his big brother, Felix made just three appearances for City before moving to Wolfsburg in 2021. The 22-year-old is now a Bundesliga regular who was rewarded with his Die Mannschaft debut earlier this year.
Another City academy graduate that’s gone on to turn heads elsewhere, Lavia made a name for himself as a prodigiously talented midfielder in his debut season with Southampton – despite their relegation.
A number of Premier League clubs – including Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal – have since been linked with a move for the 19-year-old Belgium international.
Before moving to Saints, Lavia actually made a couple of brief cup cameos for Guardiola’s City. With the benefit of hindsight, there’s an argument they’d have been better off keeping hold of Lavia and not bothering to sign Kalvin Phillips for £42million.