Friday, December 23, 2011

Carles Puyol

Carles Puyol i Saforcada ( 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 15 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.

Playing style
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." Club fans refer to him as "The Wall". 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."

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

He's also skilled in tackles and extremely efficient in man-marking. Despite possessing average height, his great physical strength allows him to jump higher than most footballers, which makes him very good in aerial play, both in offense and defense.

Personal life
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." He practices yoga and Pilates, and according to a friend, Thubten Wangchen, is highly interested in Tibetan Buddhism and culture. Puyol met the Dalai Lama in 2007.

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. 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."

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 it is". He likes to warm up for games listening to Napalm Death.

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

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