BARCELONA, Spain - Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola announced on Friday he is leaving the Spanish champions at the end of the season, ending a four-year reign over one of the greatest eras in club football.
"Four years is an eternity as Barca coach," the 41-year-old Guardiola told a news conference packed with journalists and players.
"That's four years, with time everything runs out of steam. I am drained and I need to take a step back and replenish."
Guardiola stood and embraced club president Sandro Rosell after making his statement from the podium.
In his four years at the helm, he led Barcelona to 13 titles and is credited with promoting some of the most sublime football in the world, helped by huge talent including footballer of the year Lionel Messi.
He will be replaced by current assistant Tito Vilanova.
Vilanova, 42, played only briefly as a professional in Spain's top flight, notably with Celta Vigo, before turning to coaching at the end of his career in 2002 and finding his way back to the club of his youth.
He rejoined the Catalans as a youth coach in 2007, helping Barcelona's B side to promotion.
Vilanova was promoted to first team duties, working alongside Guardiola, for the 2008-2009 season, by the end of which the team had won six major trophies including the Champions League.
After spending most of his playing career at Barcelona, Guardiola coached Barcelona's B team before taking control of the first-team squad in June 2008 from Dutchman Frank Rijkaard.