Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola claims that stepping down as coach of Barcelona still weighs heavily on him.
The 43-year-old left his role at the Catalan club in 2012, taking a year-long sabbatical before assuming the reins at his current club.
Guardiola recalled that his exit from Barcelona did not come without some tribulations, though he maintains that the stress of the job made his departure inevitable.
“Leaving Barcelona always hurts, you don’t leave Barcelona without wounds,” he said to Marca.
“I left the club because I was tired. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was time.”
Guardiola admitted that his first year at Bayern took a bigger toll than winning three straight Liga crowns at Barcelona, revealing that his biggest task was keeping the egos of his squad in check.
The Catalan coach took over a side that had won the treble under Jupp Heynckes, managing to maintain their Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal titles but bowing out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage.
“The pressure is not to win, but to sustain it,” he said.
“[Vicente] Del Bosque said it best, we think of the players and they think of themselves. The team is like an orchestra where everyone has to accept a role. The ultimate challenge is to manage egos.
Guardiola also insisted that Del Bosque was still the man to lead Spain despite their first round World Cup exit – though he admitted that he had designs on an international management position in the future.
“Hopefully Del Bosque can continue. He might need to make some changes to his project though,” he said.
“But during these [World Cup] months, the world comes to a standstill. I would very much like to experience it myself. I hope that someone will want me.”
However, he had nothing but praise for Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano, having coached the Argentine pair at the Blaugrana.
“I was fortunate to enjoy [being able to work with] Messi. Especially since guys like him are only born every so often,” he added.
“He does his talking on the pitch, he plays in a way that is greater than I can understand. In the latter stages of the Champions League, he always stepped up to win matches.
“Mascherano is also one of the smartest players that I have ever coached. He understands the game, always seeing things from his central position. He is more humble and smarter than I was.”