BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 19: Carles Puyol of FC Barcelona (R) celebrates after scoring his third team's goal during the la Liga Match between FC Barcelona and Real Zaragoza at Camp Nou on November 19, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Bostjan included it in the news today, so you have probably already seen, but it’s Carles Puyol’s birthday today! Now, we don’t usually dedicate entire posts to players purely because it’s their birthday, but I figured we could make an exception for our beloved captain. Ever since his debut for the team in 1999, Puyol has led by example. By his own admission he knew he wasn’t the best player at the club, but what he "lacked" in talent, he made up for with a tenacious work-rate and a burning desire to win.
No matter the circumstances, no matter what his teammates were doing, Puyol gave 110% for the club in every single match. Years of mediocrity and mismanagement were his only rewards until Joan Laporta took over, and since then, Puyol has become the most successful captain in FC Barcelona history. Three UEFA Champions League medals, five La Liga titles, five Spanish Super Cups, two FIFA Club World Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and a solitary Copa del Rey; Puyol has lifted 18 trophies for the club since 2004. In that time he has also become a World and European Champion with Spain, yet Puyol remains as unassuming, and crucially, as driven as the day he made his debut.
Not only that, but Puyol has contributed a lot to the careers of other players; do you think Gerard Pique would be half the defender he is today without Puyol for example? Also, who can forget his selfless gesture at Wembley just under a year ago? Carles Puyol is respected in Madrid, worshipped in Cataluña and his story is an inspiration to people all over the world, but above all that, he is one hell of a defender.