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Ernesto Valverde ready to be the resurrection at Barcelona | Sid Lowe

The man nicknamed the ‘Ant’ is a keen photographer and Stone Roses fan but he knows how to get the best out of a football squad on and off the pitch

The day Ernesto Valverde left Olympiakos, bringing his second brief but successful spell to a close in 2012, Pep Guardiola was asked what he made of his departure. “Greece has lost a great coach,” he said, “and we’ve got a great photographer back.” Valverde’s work had certainly left an impression in Athens, hung on the walls of the Ileana Tounta centre for contemporary art and displayed in the trophy cabinets of the Giorgios Karaiskaskis Stadium, Piraeus – where, according to his fellow Spaniard Michel González, who eventually took over as manager nine months later, he was a “deity”.

Deity is not a word he would welcome, one former player insisting “he evades compliments and prefers the focus to be on his players”, but he is certainly different. The man who led Olympiakos to three leagues and two cups, took Athletic Bilbao to their first title in 31 years and today became Barcelona coach began studying at the Institut d’Estudis Fotogràfics de Catalunya when he arrived in 1986 to play for Espanyol. In 2012 he published a collection of black?and?white images described by the Basque poet and writer Bernardo Atxaga as “at once delicate and tough, as if produced by two different hands”. The proceeds went to social projects in Athens.

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