Saturday, February 11, 2012

Carles Puyol

Carles Puyol i Saforcada (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkarɫəs puˈjɔɫ]; born 13 April 1978) is a Spanish footballer who plays for FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team. Mainly a central defender, he can also play on either flank, especially as a right back.

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 more than 500 official games for the team and win 18 major titles, notably five La Liga and three UEFA Champions League championships.

A Spanish international on more than 100 occasions, Puyol was part of the squads that won the Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup tournaments.

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, with 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). 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, and scoring his third international goal in 89 matches; in the final, 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.

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