Carles Puyol | Laureus
Carles spent 15 years at the Camp Nou as an outstanding defender and eventually club captain – a rarity in the days when the world’s leading players regularly move between clubs in massive big money transfers.
He was a symbol of loyalty and dedication to one club and its supporters. He was also an important member of the Spanish national team.
He played his first match for the Barcelona senior team in 1999, becoming captain in August 2004 on the retirement of Luis Enrique. He played in 593 official games for the side, winning 21 major titles, notably six La Liga championships and three UEFA Champions Leagues in 2006, 2009 and 2011. He also played in two FIFA Club World Cup winning teams in 2009 and 2011.
One of his most enjoyable moments for the club was scoring one of his rare goals in the El Clásico match at Real Madrid in May 2009, which finished in a spectacular 6-2 win for Barcelona and helped to secure the La Liga title.
Carles was a regular for the Spanish national team from 2000 to 2013 and was a member of the squad which won the European Championship in 2008 and the FIFA World Cup in 2010, where he started every match and only missed six minutes when he was substituted in the 84th minute of the quarter-final. The highlight was scoring the winning goal in the 1-0 semi-final victory over Germany with a powerful header from a corner taken by Barcelona teammate Xavi, sending the team through to their first World Cup final.
He missed the 2012 European Championship victory with a knee injury, but he reached the milestone of his 100th and last international appearance for Spain in February 2013, captaining the team to a 3–1 win over Uruguay.
Carles retired from FC Barcelona at the end of the 2013/14 season, saying that he was unable to maintain the necessary level of performance after two major operations. He said: “I’ve lived the dream of so many young kids, doing what I most enjoy in life, playing football and training.”
In addition to his work as a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, he is a La Liga ambassador and works with UEFA and FIFA.