Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara has hailed Carles Puyol's leadership skills in the wake of the defender's announcement that he will leave Barcelona at the end of the 2013-14 campaign.
The pair played alongside one another at Camp Nou before the 22-year-old departed for the Allianz Arena last summer and explained that he has always looked up to his fellow Spain international.
"Puyol is a natural leader. His name is synonymous with Barcelona," Thiago was quoted as saying by Marca.
"He has always been an example for me both on and off the pitch."
Thiago, who is the son of former Brazil international Mazinho, then went on to discuss his chances of earning a place in Vicente del Bosque's Spain squad for this summer's World Cup.
"Every player dreams of playing in the World Cup," he enthused. "There are still months to go. I'm more excited about playing in the World Cup because it's in Brazil.
"There'll be a little bit of a fight at home, but it's clearly a unique opportunity."
Thiago had the option of representing the Selecao at international level but instead declared for Spain when he was a teenager.