After 593 appearances and 18 goals for FC Barcelona, captain Carles Puyol announced yesterday that he is leaving the Catalan club at the end of the season.
No doubt that Puyol will be remembered as one of the finest defenders ever to play for the Azulgrana and many a true fan will be sad to see him go. In my opinion, Carles Puyol was a real captain of captains, a captain’s captain if you like.
The gutsy energy he has displayed while playing for the team he loves is brilliant. It’s the stuff legends are made of and Puyol will go down as one of Barça’s greats without a doubt.
Carles Puyol made his debut in 1999 under Dutch coach Louis van Gaal. He came on in the second half for Simao against Valladolid. Everyone remembers when Luis Figo returned to the Camp Nou in 2000 as a Real Madrid player. Guess who was in charge of man marking him? It was 22 year old Puyol and Barça won by 2 goals to nil on that occasion.
Puyol won his first La Liga title under Frank Rijkaard in the 2004/5 season.FC Barcelona drew 1-1 with Levante on May 14th to ensure the title was theirs for the keeping under the Dutchman.
Just a year later, Puyol got a taste of Champions League success and lifted the title in Paris after a 2-1 defeat of Arsenal FC. That rainy night consolidated Puyol as a true Barça legend in his own right.
One of the true highlights of his career came in 2009 when Barcelona beat eternal rivals Real Madrid by 6 goals to 2 at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium. The captain put in a stellar performance and his goal, which came from a header, put the Catalans in front to lead the game by two goals to one. Puyol celebrated his goal by removing his captain’s armband and kissing it for the crowd.
Under Pep Guardiola, Puyol got to taste true glory with the club and he went on to lift a third Champions League title, his second under Pep. On 28th May 2011, Puyol showed his caring, self centred spirit that all captains should possess. Instead of picking up the Champions League trophy himself at Wembley, he ceded the honours to defender Éric Abidal, who had suffered a liver tumour just a few months before.
We are all, without a shadow of a doubt, going to miss this loyal, reliable and hardworking stalwart who has been at the helm of the Barça defense for 14 years.
Gràcies Carles Puyol!