Carles Puyol has been one of the most important players in the history of F.C. Barcelona. A legendary defender who has lead and played for 19 years the same colors; an athlete whose values of leadership, fair play, strength, ability to excel and honesty go beyond the playing field.
Born on April 13, 1978, Carles Puyol grew up in La Pobla de Segur (Lleida), a small village in Spain, until he was 17 years old. On June 22, 1995, at the age of 17, he signed his first contract with F.C. Barcelona and La Masia (F.C. Barcelona’s world-class youth academy) became his home. During the following 4 years he played in the lower divisions until coach Luis van Gaal called him to the first squad to cover Reiziger’s absence, and thus beginning his career in elite football at only 21 years old.
Puyol began playing regularly for the first team and quickly became a reference as a right-back, but thanks to his perseverance and desire to excel he ended up consolidating as a central defender. His first reward came in the 2004/05 season, already as Captain of F.C. Barcelona, when he won his first title, La Liga. A year later, his dream of winning the Champions League came true. In the 2008/09 season, he became the only captain in history of football to lift all possible titles in the same year (La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup).
Beyond his almost 600 games with the F.C. Barcelona, 100 matches with the Spanish National Team and the numerous titles won, his football career is characterized by symbolic gestures, such as his kiss to the captain’s bracelet in the historic 2-6 at the Santiago Bernabéu against arch-rival Real Madrid, or when he gave the honor of raising the trophy of the Champions League to his then teammate Eric Abidal, who had recently recovered from liver cancer. Pep Guardiola, F.C. Barcelona’s coach at the time of winning the trophy, said “Carles Puyol’s gesture to let Eric Abidal lift the Champions League trophy was a great one and it will make us stronger. Carles showed his humanity in making this gesture”.
In 2014, due to a repeated knee injury, the captain could no longer give 100% of himself and decided to retire for the good of the team. He retired having won over 20 trophies for F.C. Barcelona, as well as the Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup for Spain. Nowadays, Carles is an ambassador for both LaLiga and UEFA.