"Carles Puyol would put his face where any other player would be scared to put his foot." - Franco Baresi.
He lifted six La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues and a World Cup during a trophy-laden career for club and country but the instantly-recognisable Spaniard was known by most for his incredible mentality and desire to win at all costs.
That dogged determination is what separated Puyol from the rest. He was the ultimate captain.
"No one is born a leader, it is surroundings and circumstances that develop them" - Carles Puyol pic.twitter.com/rdEm0llAme- Keepitonthedeck (@Keepitonthedeck) January 13, 2021
He led by example. Take this footage from an old El Clasico, when Puyol sprinted back to the goal-line to head away a trademark blaster from Roberto Carlos' left boot.
Not many would have even dared to use their head in this situation but the former Barcelona captain did not hesitate.
As you can see in the clip below, former Los Blancos forward Raul was denied by the goalkeeper twice, which allowed Puyol time to track back.
And when the ball fell at the feet of Carlos, you expected the ball to ripple into the back of the net. But no.
Back in 2020, he posted the footage on Instagram alongside the caption: "Today I found this video. I had never seen the play from this perspective before.
"Roberto, you almost ripped my head off, my friend!
There are countless gestures that sum up Puyol as a man. He memorably invited AC Milan midfielder and former teammate Ronaldinho to join the Barcelona team photo in 2010.
A year later, he placed the captain's armband on teammate Eric Abidal's arm when he famously lifted the Champions League trophy, just months after being diagnosed with cancer.
In fact, Puyol said that the greatest moment of his 15-year career was that 2011 win against Manchester United at Wembley - not because of the result, but the fact that his friend was able to lift the trophy after a long battle with illness.
What are your favourite Puyol-related moments?
Let us know in the comments.
Featured Image Credit: Carles Puyol/Instagram
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