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On the eve of Cataloniaa s National Day, former Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola revealed that he would have preferred playing for the Catalan national team instead of Spain, if he had been given a choice to do so.

Guardiola, a Catalan by birth, has long been a staunch proponent of independence for Catalonia from mainland Spain. Although the Catalan Football Federation is not officially recognized by FIFA, UEFA or the RFEF (Spanish Football Federation), it continues to organize a number of unofficial matches for its national team against other clubs and countries.

Speaking to Spanish paper Marca, Guardiola expressed his desire to play for the Catalonia national side saying, a If there’d been a Catalan state, I would have played for the Catalan national team because I’m from Santpedor [Catalonia].a

a But I loved playing with Spain. I did the best I could”, he added.

Guardiola and Catalonia

Guardiola, who has been capped 47 times by Spain, made 7 appearances for Catalonia over the course of his career.

In September, 2011, Guardiola received a Gold medal from the Parliament of Catalonia for his services to FC Barcelona as player and manager. The Gold medal is the highest honour awarded to a Catalan. After receiving the honour, a visibly emotional Guardiola thundered, a I shall wear as well as I can. If we lift ourselves up in good time and start to think, believe me, we are an unstoppable country. Gr cies i Visca Catalunya!a

On 10 September, 2012, Guardiola sent a video message of support for Catalan independence from New York which got beamed across the streets of Barcelona packed with Catalan campaigners. “Here’s one more vote for independence”, he said. 10th September is the National Day of Catalonia.

Bayern Munich press conference

Earlier this year, the current Bayern Munich manager announced that he will run for office as a pro-Catalan independence candidate in Cataloniaa s regional elections which are scheduled to take place on September 27, 2015. However his decision to run for office is largely symbolic as he is not expected to leave football management in the near future.

Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, later dismissed Guardiolaa s decision by calling it a populist stunt. “One cannot both be Bayern coach and devoted to politics. You either do something or another,” the minister is reported to have said to the Spanish new agency Efe.

Spaina s North-Eastern province of Catalonia has for long been demanding secession from the mainland. Catalonia, which is the richest region in Spain accounting for 19% of the Spanish GDP, has not got the power to regulate its own tax regime.

Catalans lament the fact that their tax revenue goes into subsidizing other poorer regions of Spain that have failed to overcome the effects of the sovereign debt crisis which currently grapples the country.