Carles Puyol

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Carles Puyol
Puyol playing for Barcelona in 2011
Personal information
Full name Carles Puyol Saforcada[1]
Date of birth (1978-04-13) 13 April 1978 (age 40)
Place of birth La Pobla de Segur, Spain
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Defender
Youth career
1992–1995 Pobla de Segur
1995–1996 Barcelona
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1996–1997 Barcelona C
1997–1999 Barcelona B 89 (6)
1999–2014 Barcelona 392 (12)
Total 481 (18)
National team
1995 Spain U18 3 (0)
2000 Spain U21 4 (0)
2000 Spain U23 5 (0)
2000–2013 Spain 100 (3)
2001–2013 Catalonia 6 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Carles Puyol Saforcada (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkaɾles puˈjɔl i safoɾˈkaða]; born 13 April 1978) is a Spanish retired professional footballer. Mainly a central defender, he could also play on either flank, mostly as a right-back,[2] and was regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation.[3]

A one-club man, he served as the long-time team captain for his only club Barcelona after taking over from Luis Enrique in August 2004, and went on to appear in 593 competitive matches for the club and win 20 major titles, notably six La Liga trophies and three Champions League titles.

A Spain international on 100 occasions, Puyol was part of the squad that won the Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup tournaments. In the latter competition's semi-final, he scored the only goal of the game against Germany.[4]

Club career[edit]

Born in La Pobla de Segur, Lleida, Catalonia, Puyol started playing football for his hometown club, as a goalkeeper, but after injury problems with his shoulder he switched to forward. He said that in his youth, "My parents were skeptical about me becoming a footballer and encouraged me to study."[5] 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 1998, Barcelona accepted an offer from Málaga CF to sell Puyol, who was behind Frank de Boer and Michael Reiziger in the pecking order. However, he refused to leave after seeing his best friend Xavi make his first-team debut.[3]

Louis van Gaal promoted Puyol to the first team the following year, and he made his La Liga debut on 2 October 1999 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,[6] but no move ever materialised; two years later, the player extended his contract for a further five seasons.[7]

Puyol in a 2007 La Liga match against Getafe

Puyol was named club captain at the end of 2003–04, 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 for the club's second trophy.

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 CP.[8] In the league season, despite injury problems he contributed to the team by appearing in 28 matches and helped them win another league title. His only goal came against Real Madrid in El Clásico at the Santiago Bernabéu on 2 May 2009, which finished with a resounding 6–2 away win.[9] Puyol’s goal celebration saw him kiss his Catalan armband in front of incensed Madrid fans.[10] He was essential to the team winning the 2009 UEFA Super Cup, the 2009 Champions League and the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup, appearing in nearly 100 official matches, and described 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."[5]

Puyol as Barcelona captain (wearing his Catalan armband) in 2008

On 13 November 2010, Puyol made his 500th appearance in all competitions for Barcelona's first team in a domestic league tie against Villarreal CF.[11] He struggled again with injuries during the campaign,[12][13][14] but still appeared in 28 competitive games while again winning the league and the Champions League; he played six minutes in the final of the latter competition, a 3–1 victory over Manchester United.[15]

Since the defeat to Inter Milan in the 2009–10 Champions League semi-final, Puyol went on to play 56 official matches for Barcelona without losing, a run that only ended on 11 January 2012 at CA Osasuna (2–3 loss).[16] 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).[17][18]

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[19] but fully recovering in one. On 18 December Barcelona renewed his contract, extending it until 30 June 2016;[20] in June of the following year he again underwent surgery to his right knee, in what was his sixth operation as a professional,[21] which led to thoughts of early retirement.[22]

Puyol’s jersey and boots in the FC Barcelona Museum

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.[23] 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.[24][25] 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".[26]

Barcelona bid farewell to Puyol on 15 May 2014, after a fifteen-year career in the first team (ten as captain) that brought him 21 titles. At a packed Auditori 1899, his teammates, ex-teammates, presidents and coaches paid him homage, and he said, "I’ve lived the dream of so many young kids, doing what I most enjoy in life, playing football and training".[27] He announced his retirement shortly after at the age of 36 but stayed connected to his only club, being immediately appointed director of football Andoni Zubizarreta's assistant.[28] He resigned in January 2015, shortly after the latter was fired.[29]

International career[edit]

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

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,[30] 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.

Puyol (bottom left) in Spanish team celebrations with the World Cup trophy in 2010

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).[31] He scored the only goal in the semi-final 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 while scoring his third international goal in 89 matches;[32] in the decisive match, he played the full 120 minutes as Spain defeated the Netherlands 1–0.[33]

On 1 August 2010, 32-year-Puyol announced that he would continue to play for the national team for at least another two years.[34] 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.[35]

Puyol played his 100th international on 6 February 2013, captaining Spain to a 3–1 friendly win over Uruguay in Doha, Qatar.[36][37]

Style of play[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 was known for his commanding presence in the air, his composure on the ball and his intense commitment and ruggedness. According to Barcelona's head doctor, he was "the strongest, who has the quickest reactions, and who has the most explosive strength."[3] Club fans referred to him as "The Wall".[39] 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."[3]

Puyol was also known for his leadership and work ethic. He often continued training alone after the end of a team practice session or on days off.[38] 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."[3]

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."[40] A former team-mate said, "Even four goals down he thinks we can still win",[38] and another described him as "a pain in the arse" but added "that's exactly what we need".[38][41][42]

Personal life[edit]

Puyol in 2010

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.[3][43]

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."[5] He likes to warm up for games listening to Napalm Death.[44]

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.[45] 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."[46]

In March 2009, Puyol told "I do not like to go out much, although it is good to disconnect and I like to read."[47] 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.[48]

In 2011, Puyol paid €30,000 for specialist private treatment for Miki Roqué, a footballer from his home province who was suffering from pelvic cancer. However, the latter died in 2012.[49]

Puyol started a relationship with Vanessa Lorenzo in 2012. The couple welcomed daughters Manuela (born 2014) and María (2016).[50][51]

Puyol was invited by Iranian television channel IRIB TV3 to provide commentary on the World Cup match between Iran and Spain on 20 June 2018 in a programme hosted by Adel Ferdosipour, but was not allowed in the studio. According to news website Entekhab, the former player said that he had been told by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting that he could not appear in the programme "because of his looks (long hair)"; the veteran channel director had been replaced by one closer to Iran's ultra-religious hardliners weeks before, and this incident ultimately led to some ridicule within Iran on Twitter.[52]

Career statistics[edit]


Club Season League Copa del Rey Europe Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Barcelona B 1996–97 Segunda División 1 1 1 1
1997–98 Segunda División B 42 3 42 3
1998–99 Segunda División 38 2 38 2
1999–2000 Segunda División B 8 0 8 0
Total 89 6 89 6
Barcelona 1999–2000 La Liga 24 0 5 0 8[a] 0 0 0 37 0
2000–01 17 0 2 0 5[b] 0 24 0
2001–02 35 2 1 0 15[a] 0 51 2
2002–03 32 0 0 0 14[a] 0 46 0
2003–04 27 0 4 0 7[c] 0 38 0
2004–05 36 0 1 0 8[a] 0 45 0
2005–06 35 1 3 0 12[a] 0 2[d] 0 52 1
2006–07 35 1 7 0 9[e] 1 4[f] 0 55 2
2007–08 30 0 7 0 10[a] 1 47 1
2008–09 28 1 6 0 11[a] 0 45 1
2009–10 32 1 2 0 10[g] 0 4[h] 0 48 1
2010–11 17 1 2 0 8[a] 0 0 0 27 1
2011–12 26 3 7 2 9[a] 0 2[i] 0 44 5
2012–13 13 1 5 1 4[a] 0 0 0 22 2
2013–14 5 1 6 1 1[a] 0 0 0 12 2
Total 392 12 58 4 131 2 12 0 593 18
Career totals 481 18 58 4 131 2 12 0 682 24
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Appearances in UEFA Champions League
  2. ^ Three appearances in UEFA Champions League, two appearances in UEFA Cup
  3. ^ Appearances in UEFA Cup
  4. ^ Appearances in Supercopa de España
  5. ^ One appearance in UEFA Super Cup, eight appearances and one goal in UEFA Champions League
  6. ^ Two appearances in Supercopa de España, two appearances in FIFA Club World Cup
  7. ^ One appearance in UEFA Super Cup, eight appearances and one goal in UEFA Champions League
  8. ^ Two appearances in Supercopa de España, two appearances in FIFA Club World Cup
  9. ^ Appearances in FIFA Club World Cup


Year Apps Goals
2000 1 0
2001 4 0
2002 10 1
2003 8 0
2004 10 0
2005 10 0
2006 10 0
2007 5 0
2008 14 1
2009 8 0
2010 14 1
2011 4 0
2012 1 0
2013 1 0
Total 100 3

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 FIFA World Cup







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. ^ "Carles Puyol". BBC Sport. 25 May 2004. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Lyttleton, Ben (9 July 2010). "Puyol anchors Spanish defense with combination of hard work, grit". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  4. ^ a b c "Carles Puyol Saforcada – Century of International Appearances". RSSSF. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Mitten, Andy (14 May 2006). "Puyol's love of labour not lost on fans". The Independent. Retrieved 19 July 2010.
  6. ^ "Man Utd move for Puyol". BBC Sport. 10 August 2003. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  7. ^ "Barca skipper Puyol pens new deal". BBC Sport. 22 September 2005. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  8. ^ "The captain makes it to 400 games". FC Barcelona. 16 September 2008. Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2008.
  9. ^ Lowe, Sid (2 May 2009). "Barcelona run riot at Real Madrid and put Chelsea on notice". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  10. ^ "Real Madrid-Barcelona: Celebrations in enemy territory". Marca. 24 April 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Carles Puyol: number 500". Total Barça. 13 November 2010. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Puyol injury shock". FC Barcelona. 1 September 2010. Archived from the original on 30 March 2017. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  13. ^ "Barcelona lose Puyol to groin injury". ESPN Soccernet. 30 December 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  14. ^ "Knee surgery for Barca captain Puyol". ESPN Soccernet. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  15. ^ McNulty, Phil (28 May 2011). "Barcelona 3–1 Man Utd". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  16. ^ "50 games straight without losing with Puyol on the pitch". FC Barcelona. 16 January 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  17. ^ "Barca fight back at the Bernabeu". ESPN Soccernet. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  18. ^ "Valencia – FC Barcelona: Draw with some shine (1–1)". FC Barcelona. 1 February 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  19. ^ "Elbow injury sends Puyol back to Barça sidelines". UEFA. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  20. ^ "Barça has renewed the contracts of Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernández and Leo Messi". FC Barcelona. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  21. ^ Ortuño, Xavier (18 June 2013). "Carles Puyol, cuando el quirófano es el salón de casa" [Carles Puyol, when surgery room is the living room]. Sport (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  22. ^ "Retirement on Puyol's mind after surgery". FIFA. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  23. ^ "Puyol moves second in Barça league appearances list". Marca. 2 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  24. ^ "Carles Puyol announces he is leaving FC Barcelona at the end of the season". FC Barcelona. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  25. ^ Jenson, Pete (4 March 2014). "Puyol is a brave leader who dismissed theories that strikers get all the glory, his career was nothing short of heroic". Daily Mail. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  26. ^ "Puyol announces he is to leave Barcelona". UEFA. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  27. ^ "Puyol: "I came here as a boy and I leave with a family"". FC Barcelona. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  28. ^ Polo, Fernando; Poquí, Joan (31 May 2014). "Carles Puyol será el 'segundo' de Zubizarreta" [Carles Puyol to be Zubizarreta's 'second']. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  29. ^ Adams, Tom (6 January 2015). "Carles Puyol resigns as Barcelona sack director of football Andoni Zubizarreta". Eurosport. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  30. ^ "Sáez selects Spain squad". UEFA. 20 May 2004. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  31. ^ "Villa saves Spain after penalty drama". ESPN Soccernet. 3 July 2010. Archived from the original on 5 January 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  32. ^ "Puyol heads Spain into final". ESPN Soccernet. 7 July 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  33. ^ Fletcher, Paul (11 July 2010). "Netherlands 0–1 Spain (aet)". BBC Sport. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  34. ^ "Puyol to keep playing for Spain". The New York Times. 2 August 2010. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
  35. ^ "Puyol facing fitness fight". ESPN Soccernet. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  36. ^ Aldunate, Ramiro (6 February 2013). "Campeón hasta en los simulacros" [Champions even in drills]. Marca (in Spanish). Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  37. ^ Lara, Miguel Ángel (6 February 2013). "100 veces Puyol" [100 times Puyol]. Marca (in Spanish). Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  38. ^ a b c d Lowe, Sid (29 April 2008). "Puyol returns to give Barcelona lift and leadership". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  39. ^ Hughes, Rob (8 July 2010). "Puyol, a star on defense, wins it with offense". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  40. ^ Hawkey, Ian (11 July 2010). "Defending the caveman". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  41. ^ Jenson, Pete (4 March 2014). "Carlos Puyol announcement: No obvious successor for Barcelona legend and master of reinvention". The Independent. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  42. ^ "Carles Puyol: The inspiring leader". ESPN FC. 27 August 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  43. ^ "Carles Puyol". FIFA. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  44. ^ "Manchester United v Barcelona: Live". The Daily Telegraph. 27 May 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  45. ^ Visa, Lluís; Hermida, Xosé (4 November 2006). "Puyol es baja tras la muerte de su padre en un accidente" [Puyol out after his father died in accident]. El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 17 December 2010.
  46. ^ Martín, Luís (15 November 2010). "500 más y lo deja" [500 more and he's through]. El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 17 December 2010.
  47. ^ "Carles Puyol on life, leadership and trophies at Barcelona". Goal. 15 March 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2010.
  48. ^ "Picture of the day: Celebrations". Total Barça. 18 October 2010. Archived from the original on 21 October 2010. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  49. ^ "Carles Puyol costeó el tratamiento de Miki Roqué" [Carles Puyol paid for Miki Roqué's treatment]. Diario AS (in Spanish). 25 June 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  50. ^ "Carles Puyol's daughter Manuela is born". FC Barcelona. 25 January 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  51. ^ "Puyol anuncia el nacimiento de su hija María" [Puyol announces birth of his daughter María]. Sport (in Spanish). 7 January 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  52. ^ Rannard, Georgina (23 June 2018). "World Cup 2018: Footballer's hair 'too wild' for Iranian TV". BBC News. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
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  62. ^ "LEGENDS – GoldenFoot". Golden Foot. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  63. ^ "Carles Puyol in Bilbao". Athletic Bilbao. 4 May 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  64. ^ Bruña, Manuel (5 January 2011). "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]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). Retrieved 17 December 2011.

External links[edit]