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No.5: Carles Puyol Saforcada

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Carles Puyol Saforcada is a Spanish defender who is the current team captain,born on April 13,1978 in La Pobla de Segur.
He began his footballing career in his hometown club as a striker after injury problems with his shoulders forced him from his original position of goalkeeper.His talent soon attracted wider attention and,at the age of 17,he was signed up for Barca academy at La Masia.In 1999 coach Louis van Gaal promoted him to the first team.He made his debut on October 2,1991 against Valladolid,a game Barcelona won 0-2.He started in the right-back position,but has since been converted to a central defender.He was awarded ‘Best European right-back’ award by UEFA in 2002.
In the 2003/2004 season,having been chosen as third captain,he played a vital role in the team’s sensational run of form that led to the runners-up place in the league.Puyol made 27 appearances in the league and 7 in the UEFA Cup.
He had to wait until the 2004/2005 season to win his first medal with Barca.He was,by then,captainof the first team and essential part of Frank Rijakaard’s side.At the end of the season,he finally saw his dream come true of lifting the league trophy in the Nou Camp.
On May 17,2006,Barcelona,with Puyol as captain,won the UEFA Champions League,defeating Arsenal 2-1 in the final,becoming the first Catalan captain to raise that trophy.Puyol also won the UEFA Champions League defender of the year award for that season.
He is currently under contract with Barcelona until June 30,2010 with a selling clause of €150 million.

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Carles Puyol is a regular in the Spanish national team and took part in the 2000 Olympics,2002 FIFA World Cup,Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.He has been capped 58 times,while also playing for the unofficial Catalonia national football team in one friendly.He holds the record for number of caps for national team as a Catalan player,after breaking Sergi Barjuan’s record of 56 caps on October 17,2007.

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