Guardiola rallies behind Catalan independence referendum

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has called on his fellow Catalans to support democracy by voting in Sunday's independence referendum.

The ballot is set to be held in spite of opposition from the Spanish government, which has ruled it illegal and moved to shut down polling booths.

Guardiola, who grew up in the region, fronted a pro-independence rally in June and made several appearances for the non-FIFA affiliated Catalonia national team during his playing career.

Speaking after City's 1-0 win away to Chelsea, the 46-year-old Barcelona legend spoke of the importance of the vote.

"It's a day for democracy. It's not about 'legal'. It's what people want to do with their lives," Guardiola said at his post-match press conference.

"Hopefully the Catalan people can use the most powerful tool in society, the ballot box, and tomorrow can be a nice day for our country."

The City manager's former Barcelona pupil, Gerard Pique, has been similarly outspoken in his support for Catalan independence, with his views often drawing criticism from supporters of the Spanish national team.

However, in an interview with the BBC in midweek, Guardiola seemingly revealed he may be open to one day leading Spain, the country he represented on 47 occasions, and on Saturday reiterated his desire to manage at international level.

"I would like in the next years to be the manager of a national team. At the moment it is just fantasy," he said.