Carles Puyol has the very last attributes you would imagine if you were thinking about Barcelona legends. He's not a forward player; he doesn't possess silky skills; he's certainly not in the least flamboyant, despite his hairstyle.
And yet a legend is exactly what Carles Puyol has become in his time in the Barcelona first team.
It does seem, perhaps, that Puyol has been around for an eternity but it was only at the end of 1999 that he made his debut at right back for Louis Van Gaal's Barcelona side in a 2 - 0 victory against Valladolid. Less than 3 seasons later, Carles was to figure at right back in UEFA's 2002 team of the season.
Although a right back for several seasons, Puyol gradually established himself - in the national side of Spain as well as at Barcelona - as a central defender, even though he is, at 178 cm, not especially tall. What he has become, though, is the consummate defender. Pugnacious, disciplined, strong in the tackle and deceptively quick over 10 yards, Puyol must be a forward's nightmare to play against.
Although he had to wait until season 2004 - 2005 to become official captain, Puyol has always barked his orders on the field of play - intimidating opposition players and inspiring his teammates with his total commitment and 100% concentration. This is the epitome of the player who doesn't know when to give up, or how to not give everything for the cause. One can only speculate about what he thought of the attitude of some of his teammates during the 2007- 2008 season, when the spirit in the camp was probably at an all time low. We have to speculate because, of course, Puyol, the ultimate professional, would only ever say positive things in public.
Although a proud Catalan - in fact, he has played in friendly matches for the Catalonian ‘national’ team - Carles Puyol has also been a regular member of the Spanish team - featuring in World Cup and European Championship teams and, so far, amassing over 70 caps. He has also captained the Spanish side.
UEFA Club Defender of the Year and Champions’ League Defender of the Year in 2006, and the man who lifted league and Champions’ League trophies in the same year, Carles Puyol has become one of Europe's very best defenders and inspirational footballers. Watch how proudly he juts his chest out when leading his Barcelona side onto the pitch and watch as well how he cajoles and berates his players on the field of play - as well as leading by example on and off the pitch.
One of those players that every fan would just love their club to sign - but probably already destined to have a role on the coaching staff at Barcelona - Carles Puyol is an old-fashioned defender who has already played more than 400 games for one of the most attack-minded teams in world football.
To see Carles Puyol play for FC Barcelona at the Nou Camp it is often advisable to book in advance. You can purchase FC Barcelona tickets from Simply Barcelona Tickets.