Toño de la Cruz in Yokohama. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ- FCB.

Toño de la Cruz in Yokohama. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ- FCB.

One of FC Barcelona’s expedition members that travelled to Japan knows the country very well, Yokohama to be precise, where the Club World Cup will be played. It’s Toño de la Cruz, Barça player in the 70s, manager of Barça’s youth squads in the 80s and assistant to the first team at the beginning of this century. De la Curz’s only experience as manager away from FC Barcelona was when he was with the Yokohama Marinos, at the end of the 90s.

An emotional return

“I spent three years managing in Japan, this team precisely, the Yokohama Marinos. It was a thrilling, extraordinary and unforgettable experience,” said De la Cruz. For this reason it was an emotional return for him: “It was an emotional experience reuniting with people that I had worked with previously and, despite my time away, we still have affection for one another.” He continued: “I have great memories and affection for this club and for Japanese football.”

Barça’s philosophy in Japan

On his time with the Marinos, during which the team managed to maintain good form and regular appearances at the top half of the table, the now Barça TV and Radio Barça pundit admits: “I applied a few things that I had learned with Barça’s youth squads to Yokohama.” After his Japanese adventure, De la Cruz returned to be Barça’s assistant coach: “The experience I got here helped me to make important decisions at FC Barcelona,” he said.