Carles Puyol's 20 Greatest Moments for Barcelona and Spain
Carles Puyol has played his final match for Barcelona.
On Thursday the outgoing club captain confirmed he would not be playing a part in the Catalan side's title decider at home to Atletico Madrid on Saturday, offering in a press conference, as per AS, that he felt "sad" he hadn't been able to "help the team out on the pitch" as much as he would have liked this season.
As to his immediate plans, the 36-year-old revealed that he would continue to rehabilitate his troublesome knee and that an undetermined role at Camp Nou likely awaited him.
"The idea is to be involved in some other capacity at the club," he said.
Following are Puyol's 20 greatest moments in football, both for Barcelona and the Spanish national team.
20. UEFA Club Best Defender in 2006
For his efforts in helping Barcelona to Champions League glory in 2006, Carles Puyol was named UEFA Club Best defender for the 2005-06 season.
But as he has never been one to bask in individual achievements, this prize slots in well below the accomplishments that will be featured over the following slides.
19. Barcelona Debut (1999 vs. Real Valladolid)
It was early October; Louis van Gaal was Barcelona manager. And in a Primera Division match away to Real Valladolid, a young Carles Puyol made his debut for the Catalan giants.
He'd go on to play a further 592 games for the club in all competitions.
18. First International Match (November 15, 2000 vs. Netherlands)
Just over 13 months after his Barcelona debut, Puyol made his senior bow for Spain in a November friendly against the Netherlands.
He'd represent his country another 99 times while also turning out on six occasions for Catalonia.
17. 1st International Goal (April 17, 2002 vs. Northern Ireland)
Puyol scored just three times for Spain in 13 years of international duty, and his first came in April 2002 against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park. It was his side's fourth goal on the night, and they ended up winning 5-0.
16. FIFA Club World Cup
Puyol played in three Club World Cup tournaments, winning the trophy in both 2009 and 2010.
In 2009, his Barcelona side needed extra time to beat Argentine giants Estudiantes, but two years later they thumped Copa Libertadores winners Santos (and future teammate Neymar) to the tune of 4-0.
15. 2000 Olympic Games
Before he made his official debut for Spain, Puyol represented his country at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
Barcelona teammate Xavi Hernandez was also in the squad, and they finished second to Chile in the group stages before beating Italy and the United States in the knockout round. La Roja came up short in the final, however, losing to Cameroon on penalties and coming away with a silver medal.
14. 2013 La Liga Title
Should Atletico Madrid hold on to first place and win the title on Saturday, Puyol's final championship will have come last spring when Barcelona finished with 100 points to top La Liga.
Then 35 years old, he played 13 times in the Spanish top flight in 2012-13 as the Catalans finished a whopping 15 points above Real Madrid.
13. 2009 Champions League
Barcelona's 2-0 win over Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final tied up a historic treble for the Catalan outfit.
Puyol was injured for the Rome final, but he did play 11 matches in Europe along the way.
12. 2011 Champions League Final
Puyol didn't start the 2011 Champions League final against Manchester United, but he did come off the bench in the 88th minute at Wembley as Barcelona put the finishing touches on a 3-1 win.
The defender also allowed teammate Eric Abidal to lift the trophy, something he would later refer to as the proudest moment of his career, as per AS.
11. 2010 La Liga Title
The 2009-10 Primera Division season was a close-run thing. But a 16-match unbeaten run to close out the campaign saw Barcelona finish atop La Liga with 99 points—three above Real Madrid—as Puyol earned his fourth domestic championship.
10. 2011 La Liga Title
Puyol won a third Primera Division winners’ medal on the trot—and fifth overall—when Barcelona finished atop La Liga in the spring of 2011.
Following an April 30 defeat at Real Sociedad, the Catalans regrouped to go unbeaten in the final four matches of the season. Real Madrid finished four points in arrears.
9. 6-2 Win over Real Madrid (May 2, 2009)
Puyol was often at his best against archrivals Real Madrid, and in May 2009 he inspired a 6-2, come-from-behind victory at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
At the final whistle, he removed his captain's armband and kissed it in front of the crowd.
8. 2009 La Liga Title
The 28 Primera Division matches Puyol would play in 2008-09 would be bettered only once over the remainder of his career.
That season Barcelona finished nine points clear of Real Madrid atop the table, despite the fact that they failed to pick up a single win over their final four matches. The title was also part of that year's historic treble.
7. 100th Cap (February 6, 2013 vs. Uruguay)
Puyol's 100th appearance for Spain was also his last. It came in February 2013 against Uruguay in Qatar, a match La Roja won 3-1.
6. 1st La Liga Title
Puyol won his first Primera Division title in the spring of 2006 as Barcelona, despite losing their last two matches of the campaign, finished atop La Liga and, crucially, 12 points above Real Madrid.
The defender's lone goal that term also kicked off a streak of nine successive seasons in which he'd find the back of the net for his club.
5. 2009 Copa Del Rey Final
On May 13, 2009, Barcelona secured one of the three planks of their treble when they beat Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final.
Puyol played the full 90 minutes as the Catalans came from behind to beat their Basque opponents in Valencia.
4. 2006 Champions League Final
Barcelona completed a league and Champions League double when they came from behind to beat Arsenal in the 2006 European Cup final.
Sol Campbell had given the Gunners the lead shortly before the break, but goals in five minutes from Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti late on secured the win for Puyol and the Catalans.
3. Euro 2008 Final
Long considered the choke artists of international football, Spain exorcised their demons at Euro 2008—beating Germany 1-0 in the Vienna final.
Puyol, who operated alongside Carlos Marchena in that match, was named to the tournament all-star team.
2. 2010 World Cup Semi-Final
Puyol's third and final goal for his country could hardly have been bigger.
Deadlocked in a scoreless draw with a capable Germany side in Durban, the defender scored the only goal of the match—and put Spain through to the World Cup final—with just 17 minutes left on the clock.
1. 2010 World Cup Final
For 120 minutes in the greatest spectacle in sport, Carles Puyol and Spain (and Barcelona) teammate Gerard Pique kept a clean sheet against World Cup final opponents Holland.
It was a physical, hotly-contested affair, but another Barcelona player—Andres Iniesta—ensured Spain would win the trophy when he found the back of the net with four minutes left in extra time.