Carles Puyol: a hero in the shadows

Rights: Tony Garriga/EPA

In football, as in other many team sports, some collect the glory that has been sowed by many. Pep Guardiola’s super-team made history by winning everything and playing a football that had never seen before. Ultra offensive systems, keeping ball possession throughout the match and heading always towards the rivals goal were the DNA of that team. Xavi, Iniesta and above all Messi were praised as responsible of that wonderful style, covered by individual awards and venerated by press and sport fans.

But the most offensive team ever remembered had never succeeded if the defence did not have such level. And that team was able to play that way because defenders where at least as outstanding as attackers and Carles Puyol have much to do with that. There is no doubt looking at his achievements that he is one of the best defenders of football history. 6 Spanish Leagues, 3 Champions Leagues, 2 Cups, a European Championship and, above all, a World Championship where a header goal of him allowed Spain to beat Germany are his career’s highlights. But he was more than just an outstanding player playing for winner teams.

Puyol has been the most intense player ever seen on the pitch. He always focused on detail, trying to correct mistakes and wrong positions and, above all, never loosing his intensity, his hunger for winning more and more and never surrendering in adverse situations. He was a true leader, that ruled in the dress room by a exemplary behaviour.

He never let Barcelona fall into snub towards the rival. If a teammate celebrated a goal in a depreciative manner, he came to him, running, and stopped the situation. You can not remember a bad behaviour from him; he never looked down on a rival and always used effort, hard work and fair play for success. Even to overcome the uncountable injuries that punished him during his long career.

He will leave Barcelona at the end of the season and the story of this terrific player at the top level will see his end. Puyol is and example of what a professional athlete must be for everything described above and although in a few years to come people will remember Messi’s and Iniesta’s Barcelona, the most fanatic fans of football will record that the one that protected the back of those players was an extraordinary defender that played for Barcelona during 15 years and felt the t-shirt probably more than anyone before.