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Getting To Know: Carles Puyol

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 15:  Carles Puyol of Spain strikes the ball during a training session at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on June 15, 2010 in Durban, South Africa.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 15: Carles Puyol of Spain strikes the ball during a training session at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on June 15, 2010 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
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Full name: Carles Puyol i Saforcada
Squad No: 5
Position: Center back
Date of birth: 13 April 1978
Place of birth: La Pobla de Segur, Spain
Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight: 80 kg (176 lbs)

Puyol was born in a small town in the northern part of Catalunya. His first steps in football were as a goalkeeper, a position he played for his local club, but shoulder injuries forced him to switch to striker. He joined La Masia later than most of the other kids did, at the age of 17, where he again switched positions, this time to defensive midfielder. It was the position he played through his youth campaign, but when he joined Barcelona's B team he was assigned to the right back spot.

In the 1999-00 season, Carles was promoted to the senior squad and he made his debut on October 2 at Real Valladolid. Because the right back position was covered by Michael Reiziger, he was yet again forced to make the change, this time to central defender. Puyol became a regular started two seasons later, when Carles Rexach took over managing of the club. After he was almost acquired by Manchester United he signed a five year contract extension, therefore committing his best footballing years to the Catalan club.

Puyol was named captain after Luis Enrique's retirement at the end of the 2003-04 season making him one of the longest tenured captains in club history. In the Barcelona sextuple winning season he became the only club captain to lift two Champions League trophies. He has been a defensive cornerstone for eleven seasons now and has appeared in 510 games for Blaugrana's first team and has scored 9 goals in all competitions. He also has 89 appearances for Barcelona B where he scored six goals.

Carles has also been a regular fixture in the Spanish national side and is the fifth most capped player in Spain's history with 94 appearances. He won his debut on 15 November 2000 against Netherlands. For La Furia Roja he has scored three goals, none bigger than his game winning goal against Germany in the 2010 FIFA World Cup semi-finals game against Germany.

Profile
Puyol is a strong defender, very good at man-marking and is surprisingly strong in the air, considering his height. He is known for his work ethic and commitment and is considered as the most versatile defender on the team; central defender and right back are both his natural positions, but he can also fill in the left back spot if needed. His leadership abilities have been praised many times and he has been described as the heart of the Barcelona team.

Honors
FC Barcelona

  • La Liga (4): 2004-05, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10
  • Copa del Rey (1): 2008-09
  • Supercopa de España (4): 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010
  • UEFA Champions League (2): 2005-06, 2008-09
  • UEFA Super Cup (1): 2009
  • FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2009

Spain

  • FIFA World Cup (1): 2010
  • UEFA European Football Championship (1): 2008

Individual

  • Don Balón Award (1): 2001
  • European Sports Magazine Team of the Year (4): 2001-02, 2002-03, 2004-05, 2005-06
  • UEFA Team of the Year (5): 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009
  • UEFA Club Best Defender (1): 2006
  • FIFPro World XI: (3): 2007, 2008, 2010
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (1): 2010
  • UEFA Euro 2008 Team of the Tournament
  • FIFA Team of the Year (1): 2008
  • 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup Team of the Tournament

Puyol's current contract runs out after the 2012-2013 season, when he will be 35 years old.

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