Carles Puyol

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Carles Puyol
Puyol in action for Barcelona in 2011
Personal information
Full name Carles Puyol i Saforcada[1]
Date of birth (1978-04-13) 13 April 1978 (age 36)
Place of birth La Pobla de Segur, Spain
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current club Barcelona
Number 5
Youth career
1993–1995 Pobla de Segur
1995–1996 Barcelona
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1996–1997 Barcelona C
1997–2000 Barcelona B 89 (6)
1999– Barcelona 392 (12)
National team
1995 Spain U18 3 (0)
2000 Spain U21 4 (0)
2000 Spain U23 5 (0)
2000– Spain 100 (3)
2001– Catalonia 6 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 2 March 2014.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 6 February 2013

Carles Puyol i Saforcada (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkaɾɫes puˈjɔɫ i safoɾˈkaða]; born 13 April 1978) is a Spanish footballer who plays for FC Barcelona in La Liga. Mainly a central defender he can also play on either flank, especially as a right back.[2]

He served as a longtime team captain for his only club FC Barcelona after taking over from Luis Enrique in August 2004, going on to appear in almost 600 official games for the team and win 21 major titles, notably six La Liga and three UEFA Champions League championships.

A Spanish international on 100 occasions, Puyol was part of the squads that won the Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup tournaments. In the latter competition's semifinal, he scored the only goal of the match against Germany.

Club career[edit]

Puyol training with Barcelona in 2009.

Born in La Pobla de Segur, Lleida, Catalonia, Puyol started playing football for his hometown club, as a goalkeeper. However, after injury problems with his shoulder, he switched to striker. He said that in his youth, "My parents were skeptical about me becoming a footballer and encouraged me to study."[3] In 1995, he joined FC Barcelona's youth system at La Masia, switching positions again, to play as a defensive midfielder; two years later, he started playing for the club's B-team, occupying the position of right back.

In 1999 Louis van Gaal promoted Puyol to the first team, and he made his La Liga debut on 2 October in a 2–0 away win against Real Valladolid. After that, he successfully made another conversion, now to central defender. During the 2003 off-season, as Barcelona was immersed in a financial crisis, Manchester United showed interest in acquiring Puyol's services,[4] but no move ever materialized; two years later, the player extended his contract for a further five seasons.[5]

Puyol was named club captain at the end of the 2003–04 season, after the retirement of Luis Enrique. He continued to be a defensive cornerstone for Barça, being awarded the "Best European right back" award by UEFA in 2002 (amongst other individual accolades), and helping the Catalans win two consecutive league titles. In 2005–06, he appeared in a total of 52 official games, including 12 in the season's UEFA Champions League, which ended in conquest against Arsenal, the club's second.

Puyol in a 2007 La Liga match against Getafe

On 16 September 2008, Puyol made his 400th appearance in all competitions for Barcelona's first team in a Champions League group stage match against Sporting Clube de Portugal.[6] In the league season, he dealt with injury problems, but still contributed to the team by appearing in 28 matches and helped to win another league title, his only goal coming in El Clásico at Real Madrid on 2 May 2009, which finished with a resounding 6–2 away win;[7] from 2008–10 combined, other than the two league titles, he was essential in conquering the 2009 UEFA Super Cup, the 2009 Champions League and the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup, appearing in nearly 100 official matches, and describing the club as "the team who every Catalan child wants to play for... I am living the dream playing football for Barça and it is my dream to retire playing here."[3]

On 13 November 2010, Puyol made his 500th appearance in all competitions for Barcelona's first team in a La Liga game against Villarreal CF.[8] Puyol struggled again with injury in the 2010–11 season,[9][10][11] but still appeared in 28 official games for Barcelona, which again won the league and the Champions League. He played six minutes in the final of the latter competition, a 3–1 win against Manchester United.

Since the defeat to Inter Milan in the 2009–10 Champions League semi-final, Puyol went on to play 56 official games for Barcelona without losing, a run that only ended on 11 January 2012 at CA Osasuna (2–3 loss).[12] Additionally, he scored two goals in the season's Copa del Rey, against Real Madrid (2–1 away win, 4–3 on aggregate) and Valencia CF (1–1 away, 3–1 aggregate).[13][14]

On 2 October 2012, in the late stages of a Champions League group stage encounter at S.L. Benfica, his first game upon recovering from a knee ligament ailment contracted against Getafe CF, Puyol dislocated his elbow after landing awkwardly in a corner kick challenge, initially being sidelined for a further two months[15] but fully recovering in one. On 18 December Barcelona renewed his contract, extending it until 30 June 2016;[16] in June of the following year he again underwent surgery to his right knee, in what was his sixth operation as a professional,[17] which led to thoughts of early retirement.[18]

On 2 March 2014, Puyol surpassed Migueli to go second in Barça's all-time league appearances table, behind only Xavi, and scored the third goal in a 4–1 home win against UD Almería.[19] Two days after, even though he still had two more years in his contract, he announced that he would leave Barcelona at the end of the season and declare the remainder of his link void.[20][21] He said, "After my last two major operations, I find it is taking me a lot of effort to reach the level required here, even more than myself and the surgeons thought necessary. That's the reason I have reached this decision".[22]

International career[edit]

"Puyol is the key, not just because he is one of the best defenders in the world but because of his character. He never lets up."


Puyol won his first cap for Spain on 15 November 2000 against the Netherlands, and remained a regular fixture in the following years. He played for the nation at the 2000 Olympics, 2002 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2004, 2006 World Cup, Euro 2008, 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup.

At Euro 2008 Puyol started throughout the vast majority of the competition, as the defensive backline only conceded two goals in five games in an eventual final win against Germany. He was named in the Team of the Tournament alongside defensive partner Carlos Marchena, of Valencia CF. He started in three out of five at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, and captained the team when Iker Casillas was rested for the last group stage match; as Spain finished third, he and four other teammates were named in the Team of the Tournament.

At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Puyol started every match and played almost every minute (he was substituted by Marchena in the 84th minute of the quarter-final against Paraguay[24]). He scored the only goal in the semifinal against Germany with a powerful header from a corner taken by Barcelona teammate Xavi, sending the national team through to their first World Cup final,[25] and scoring his third international goal in 89 matches; in the decisive match, he played the full 120 minutes as Spain defeated the Netherlands 1–0.

On 1 August 2010, 32-year Puyol announced that he would continue to play for the national team for at least another two years.[26] He missed the Euro 2012 tournament due to a knee injury contracted in a league game against RCD Espanyol in early May, which required surgery and five to six weeks recuperation.[27]

Puyol played his 100th international on 6 February 2013, captaining Spain to a 3–1 friendly win over Uruguay in Doha, Qatar.[28][29]

Puyol playing for Catalonia in a 2009 friendly match against Argentina at Camp Nou.

International goals[edit]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 17 April 2002 Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland  Northern Ireland 0–4 0–5 Friendly
2. 11 October 2008 A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn, Estonia  Estonia 0–3 0–3 2010 World Cup qualification
3. 7 July 2010 Moses Mabhida, Durban, South Africa  Germany 0–1 0–1 2010 World Cup



As of 2 March 2014.[30][31]
Club Season League Cup Europe Other[32] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Barcelona B 1996–97 1 1 1 1
1997–98 42 3 42 3
1998–99 38 2 38 2
1999–2000 8 0 8 0
Total 89 6 89 6
Barcelona 1999–2000 24 0 5 0 8 0 0 0 37 0
2000–01 17 0 2 0 5 0 24 0
2001–02 35 2 1 0 15 0 51 2
2002–03 32 0 0 0 14 0 46 0
2003–04 27 0 4 0 7 0 38 0
2004–05 36 0 1 0 8 0 45 0
2005–06 35 1 3 0 12 0 2 0 52 1
2006–07 35 1 7 0 8 1 5 0 55 2
2007–08 30 0 7 0 10 1 47 1
2008–09 28 1 6 0 11 0 45 1
2009–10 32 1 2 0 9 0 5 0 48 1
2010–11 17 1 2 0 8 0 0 0 27 1
2011–12 26 3 7 2 9 0 2 0 44 5
2012–13 13 1 5 1 4 0 0 0 22 2
2013–14 5 1 6 1 1 0 0 0 12 2
Total 392 12 58 4 129 2 14 0 593 18
Career totals 481 18 58 4 129 2 15 1 682 24







Playing style[edit]

Puyol is known for his intense commitment and ruggedness as a defender. According to Barcelona's head doctor, Puyol is "the strongest, who has the quickest reactions, and who has the most explosive strength."[36] Club fans refer to him as "The Wall".[37] Miguel Ángel Nadal, who played with him for a short period of time, said, "Carles plays with maturity, has great positional sense, and above all, has pride in his shirt."[36]

Puyol is also known for his leadership and work ethic. He often continues training alone after the end of a team practice session or on days off.[23] He said in 2010, "I don't have Romário's technique, [Marc] Overmars' pace or [Patrick] Kluivert's strength. But I work harder than the others. I'm like the student who is not as clever, but revises for his exams and does OK in the end."[36] He is often described as the heart of the Barcelona team.

Fellow defender Gerard Piqué said: "He's someone who, even if you're winning 3–0 and there's a few seconds left in the game will shout at the top of his voice at you if he thinks your concentration is going."[38] A former team-mate said, "Even four goals down he thinks we can still win",[23] and another described him as "a pain in the arse" but added "that's exactly what we need".[23]

Puyol in 2010

Personal life[edit]

Puyol's long shaggy hair has been a distinctive feature throughout his career. Barcelona manager van Gaal, suggested he get it cut when the player was 19, immediately after his first training session with the senior players: "What's your problem, can't you afford the money for a haircut?", Van Gaal asked him in his office. "I said nothing," Puyol remembered, "and to this day have kept my hair as is.[36][39]

In 2006, Puyol said that when not working, he leads "a very quiet life... I've not been to a nightclub in Barcelona for years either. When I go out, I stay in a restaurant with my friends."[3] He likes to warm up for games listening to Napalm Death.[40]

In March 2009, Puyol told "I do not like to go out much, although it is good to disconnect and I like to read."[41] In September of the following year, he started a relationship with model Malena Costa: on 16 October he scored through a header in a 2–1 home win against Valencia CF, and dedicated her the goal by making a heart symbol with both hands. “I dedicate the goal to my girlfriend”, he said after the game.[42]

Puyol's father, Josep, died in a farming accident in late 2006 while Carles was on his way to play a match against Deportivo de La Coruña. He was informed of the news by coach Frank Rijkaard upon landing.[43] He said that this, combined with an injury led to a dark period, with Spanish national team physio Raúl Martínez eventually coming to Barcelona: in the player's words, "...[he] gave me a great telling off. He made me react, and I began to try to be more cheerful, and not overwhelmed by it all."[44]

On 25 January 2014 Puyol's girlfriend, Vanessa Lorenzo, gave birth to their first child, a girl named Manuela.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010: List of players" (PDF). FIFA. 4 June 2010. p. 29. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Players to watch – Carles Puyol; BBC Sport, 25 May 2004
  3. ^ a b c Puyol's love of labour not lost on fans; The Independent, 14 May 2006
  4. ^ Man Utd move for Puyol; BBC Sport, 10 August 2003
  5. ^ Barca skipper Puyol pens new deal; BBC Sport, 22 September 2005
  6. ^ The captain makes it to 400 games; Barcelona's official website, 16 September 2008
  7. ^ Barcelona run riot at Real Madrid and put Chelsea on notice; The Guardian, 2 May 2009
  8. ^ Carles Puyol: number 500; Total Barça, 13 November 2010
  9. ^ Puyol injury shock; Barcelona's official website, 1 September 2010
  10. ^ Barcelona lose Puyol to groin injury; ESPN Soccernet, 30 December 2010
  11. ^ Knee surgery for Barca captain Puyol; ESPN Soccernet, 31 May 2011
  12. ^ 50 games straight without losing with Puyol on the pitch; Barcelona's official website, 16 January 2012
  13. ^ Barca fight back at the Bernabeu; ESPN Soccernet, 18 January 2012
  14. ^ Valencia – FC Barcelona: Draw with some shine (1–1); Barcelona's official website, 1 February 2012
  15. ^ Elbow injury sends Puyol back to Barça sidelines;, 3 October 2012
  16. ^ "Barça has renewed the contracts of Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernández and Leo Messi". Barcelona's official website. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  17. ^ "Carles Puyol, cuando el quirófano es el salón de casa" [Carles Puyol, when surgery room is the living room] (in Spanish). Sport. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Retirement on Puyol's mind after surgery". 31 May 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "Puyol moves second in Barça league appearances list". Marca in English. 2 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  20. ^ "Carles Puyol announces he is leaving FC Barcelona at the end of the season". Barcelona's official website. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  21. ^ "Puyol is a brave leader who dismissed theories that strikers get all the glory, his career was nothing short of heroic". Daily Mail. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  22. ^ "Puyol announces he is to leave Barcelona". 4 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  23. ^ a b c d Puyol returns to give Barcelona lift and leadership; The Guardian, 29 April 2008
  24. ^ Villa saves Spain after penalty drama; ESPN Soccernet, 3 July 2010
  25. ^ Puyol heads Spain into final; ESPN Soccernet, 7 July 2010
  26. ^ Puyol to keep playing for Spain; The New York Times, 2 August 2010
  27. ^ Puyol facing fitness fight; ESPN Soccernet, 8 May 2012
  28. ^ Campeón hasta en los simulacros (Champion even in drills); Marca, 6 February 2013 (Spanish)
  29. ^ 100 veces Puyol (100 times Puyol); Marca, 6 February 2013 (Spanish)
  30. ^ Official site statistics
  31. ^ Transfermarkt player statistics
  32. ^ Includes other competitive competitions, including the Supercopa de España, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup
  33. ^ Puyol; Barcelona's official website
  34. ^ "Spain dominate Team of the Tournament". 30 June 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2008. 
  35. ^ "Los campeones del mundo de fútbol ya tienen la Real Orden del Mérito Deportivo" [The football World Champions already have the Royal Order of Sporting Merit] (in Spanish). El Mundo Deportivo. 5 January 2011. 
  36. ^ a b c d Puyol anchors Spanish defense with combination of hard work, grit; Sports Illustrated, 9 July 2010
  37. ^ Puyol, a star on defense, wins it with offense; The New York Times, 8 July 2010
  38. ^ Defending the caveman; Times Live, 11 July 2010
  39. ^ 2010 FIFA World Cup profile;
  40. ^ "Manchester United v Barcelona: Live". Telegraph Media Group Ltd. 27 May 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2010. 
  41. ^ Carles Puyol on life, leadership and trophies at Barcelona;, 15 March 2009
  42. ^ Picture of the day: Celebrations; Total Barça, 18 October 2010
  43. ^ Puyol es baja tras la muerte de su padre en un accidente (Puyol does not play after his father died in accident); El País, 4 November 2006 (Spanish)
  44. ^ 500 más y lo deja (500 more and he's through); El País, 15 November 2010 (Spanish)
  45. ^ "Carles Puyol's daughter Manuela is born". Barcelona's official website. 25 January 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Luis Enrique
FC Barcelona captain
Succeeded by