Luis Enrique announces death of 9-year-old daughter Xana

‘You will be the star that guides our family…. Rest Xanita’: Spanish football legend Luis Enrique tells of his family’s pain as his nine-year-old daughter dies just five months after being diagnosed with bone cancer

  • Luis Enrique’s daughter Xana had been fighting osteosarcoma for five months 
  • Enrique, 49 describing her as ‘the star that guides our family’ in tribute today
  • He thanked well-wishers and medical staff for their ‘dedication and treatment’   
  • Tributes flooded in for Xana as football stars and Spanish PM paid their respects

The nine-year-old daughter of former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has died after a five-month battle with cancer.

Enrique, 49, paid tribute to Xana on Thursday afternoon, describing her as ‘the star that guides our family’.

Xana had fought osteosarcoma – or bone cancer –  for ‘five intense months’, the Spaniard revealed on Twitter.   

Luis Enrique announced the death of daughter Xana, pictured together after Barcelona won the Champions League in 2015, at the age of nine 

Xana had fought osteosarcoma – or bone cancer – for ‘five intense months’, the Spaniard revealed

Enrique, 49, paid tribute to Xana (together after the 2015 Champions League final) on his Twitter, describing her as ‘the star that guides our family’

Enrique had stood down as Spain’s national coach to spend time with his dying daugther (pictured together after Barcelona’s 2017 Champions League win)

Enrique, who also coached the Spanish national team, thanked those who had sent well wishes over recent months and medical staff for their ‘dedication’.   

In a statement from his official account, he wrote: ‘Our daughter Xana has passed away this afternoon at the age of 9, after fighting for 5 intense months against osteosarcoma. 

‘We thank you for all the love received during these months and we appreciate the discretion and understanding. 

‘Also, we thank the staff of the Sant Joan de Deu and Sant Pau hospitals for their dedication and treatment, to the medical nurses and all the volunteers. 

‘With a special mention to the team of palliative priests of Sant Joan de Deu. We will miss you very much but we will remember you every day of our lives in the hope that in the future we will meet again. 

‘You will be the star that guides our family. Rest Xanita. Martinez Cullell family.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was among those to pay tribute to Xana, writing on Twitter: ‘There are no words that that can go along with this pain. 

‘My heartfelt wishes to Luis Enrique and all his family, after the loss of his little Xana.’

Condolences have also poured in from across the world of football, with Enrique’s ex-clubs Roma and Barcelona, as well as his former players, expressing their sympathies online.

Enrique enjoys some time in the middle of the pitch with his daughter following the Berlin final in 2015

Enrique and Xana pictured at the Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Alaves in 2017

Luis Suarez, who played under him at Barcelona, wrote: ‘Moment of much pain and sadness. Rest in peace XANITA. A lot of strength Luis Enrique, Elena and family!’ 

Enrique was forced to quit the Spain in job after just a year in charge due to his daughter’s illness.  

Enrique said at the time: ‘Because the reasons that prevented me from developing normally my duties as a coach since last March continue to this day, I have decided to leave that position.

Enrique holds hands with his daughter during celebrations at the Nou Camp in May 2016

‘All my thanks to those responsible for the RFEF for the trust and understanding shown. Special thanks to all the people who are part of the staff and the players for their professionalism.

‘Without forgetting the media for your discretion and respect for the situation.

‘I would like to thank my staff and the players for their professionalism and the media for showing discretion and respect for the situation. Thanks from the heart.’  


Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer, usually diagnosed in teenagers and young adults.

It occurs when the cells that grow new bone form a cancerous tumor.     

The cause of the cancer is unknown but it is thought to be related to rapid bone growth, such as adolescence.

Most tumors usually develop around the knee, either in the lower part of the thighbone or the upper part of the shinbone.

If the cancer has not spread, the long-term survival rate is between 70 and 75 percent.

If osteosarcoma has already spread, such as to the lungs or other bones at diagnosis, the long-term survival rate is about 30 percent.


  • Bone pain (in motion, at rest, or when lifting objects)
  • Bone fractures
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Limping
  • Limitation of motion of joints

There are a few treatment options for osteosarcoma.

  • Chemotherapy:  

Often administered before surgery, chemotherapy uses drugs that help shrink and kill cancerous cells. The length of treatment varies and may depend on whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. 

  • Surgery:

In most cases, surgeons can save the cancerous limb. The tumor and surrounding bone are removed and the missing bone is replaced with an artificial one.

  • Rotationplasty:

A rotationplasty is a procedure in which the bottom of the femur, the knee, and the upper tibia are surgically removed. The lower leg is then rotated 180 degrees and attached to the femur.

Sources: Macmillan and Healthline

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