Brighton & Hove Albion defender Martín Montoya has opened up about how he had to grow up quickly as a teenager working under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona after his mother lost her battle with cancer.
The former Spain Under-23 international, who will reunite with Guardiola this weekend when the Seagulls take on Manchester City, revealed how losing his parent gave him even more desire to make it as a professional with Barça - a club he would go on to make 67 appearances with across all competitions.
"My mum had breast cancer and she got over it well, all fine," Montoya told The Argus. "Then a year or two later it came back up there (pointing to his head) and she couldn’t beat it. I was very young and it’s a hard blow to take.
"Anyone who loses someone from their close family, it’s the hardest thing in life. As footballers, we have to grow up quickly. I grew even quicker after losing someone so close.
"I had more desire to do well because she always had this vision that one day I would be a first team player at Barcelona.
"When she died it was like I had more strength to make it come true. I made her that promise when she was ill."
Montoya came through the ranks at Barcelona during Manchester City manager Guardiola's four-year reign in Catalonia.
The 27-year-old saw a number of head coaches come and go before eventually leaving in 2016, but the defender believes that Barcelona were the best they have ever been under Guardiola.
"Guardiola teams have a lot of the ball, play from the back, spend the whole game with the ball and, when they don’t have it, press very hard for five seconds to get it back," Montoya added. "That’s what he always says. Five seconds.
"His style of play is the same now as it was at Barça - play from the goalkeeper, an open defence. They want to play a lot and they have the players to do it.
"His Barcelona was the best Barcelona there has ever been."