But playing in Sinaloa did afford Guardiola the opportunity to immerse himself in a new culture while preparing for a career in management by learning first-hand from the young but experienced coach Lillo.
“Look, the amount that he was signed for was not that much. Pep came to play for me, not for money,” Lillo told Spain’s Esquire magazine. This statement was supported by the fact that Guardiola – who only played ten games due to injury – asked Dorados to suspend his salary while recovering from an operation in Spain. Whatsmore, Martinez told Mexican media outlet La Silla Rota that, upon learning of the local cost of living, Guardiola would hand out envelopes filled with cash to the worst paid employees at the club each week. “He was a great guy, very humble, he treated everyone equally,” Martinez gushed.
Martinez said that Guardiola readily embraced Mexican culture, affectionately referring to him as “güey” (Mexican slang for “dude”) and eagerly sampling the local cuisine (although he could not stomach Culiacan’s popular spicy salsas or raw seafood).
Outside of training, Guardiola spent most of his time analyzing soccer videos in his hotel suite or reading soccer and politics magazines in a local cafe. He would also frequently visit Lillo’s home, where the two of them would spend hours discussing tactics.
On the pitch, Guardiola scored one goal and recorded one assist in the 793 minutes that he played for Dorados. The team won three and drew seven of the ten games that Guardiola appeared in. Despite ending the season in eighth place, Dorados’ highest finish in Mexico’s top division, the club was relegated to the second division because it had the lowest points average over the last three years.
Having seen Dorados lose out narrowly to San Luis, one of several clubs then owned by influential Mexican broadcaster Televisa, Guardiola and Lillo were enraged at both the corruption and the convoluted relegation system in Mexican soccer.
“Mysteriously, our rival San Luis beat America and Necaxa, despite being way inferior. Both were owned by Televisa,” Lillo, who quit the club in protest, told Esquire. “After Dorados’ best ever season we were relegated. Pep was so annoyed that he left.”
Guardiola remained forever grateful to Lillo, whom he described as “an essential figure” in his development as a coach during a 2011 interview with FIFA. “He was my coach for just six months in Culiacan, Mexico, but we had a great time and I learned a lot,” Guardiola said. “I think highly of him and I’m very grateful to him, because he was very generous and passed his knowledge on to me. And he knows a lot too.”
Lillo took a two-year break from the game after leaving Sinaloa. He eventually returned to Spain where he became coach of Real Sociedad and then Almeria. Ironically, the latter club fired him on November 20, 2010, immediately after a 0-8 home defeat to Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona side. Lillo later returned to Latin America and he is now coach of Colombian side Millonarios. [source]
There is loads more. Worth a read!