Goal.com 50: Carles Puyol (27)

Carles Puyol was the 27th best player of 2009-10, according to Goal.com experts...
Welcome to the Goal.com 50! In this special series, Goal.com editors worldwide vote for the top 50 players of 2009-10. We count down to the announcement of the winner on August 10th with profiles of each and every player who made it into the top 50...

After winning a historic Triplete (the Champions League trophy, the Liga title and the Copa del Rey crown) in the 2008-09 season, it was hard to believe that the 2009-10 campaign could be much better for Barcelona centre-back Carles Puyol.

But better it was for the long-locked defender as Puyol, serving as Barca's last line of defence, continued to help his club find success with Spanish and European Super Cup titles along with the Blaugrana's first ever Club World Cup trophy.

Alongside team-mate Gerard Pique, the rugged captain frequently put in tackles on players far faster and younger than he and his management of the back line proved invaluable, in many ways enabling Barca to play their defend-by-attack brand of possession football.

Although Barcelona would be unable to lift the Champions League and Copa del Rey trophies for a second consecutive year, Puyol and his team did find reward in another Liga title, securing the most points ever earned by a team in Spain's Primera.

But it was with the Spanish national team that Puyol would touch immortality, and his performance in South Africa's World Cup 2010 with which he wILL forever be remembered as a legend in the pages of Spanish football.

Carles Puyol
Moment of the Season

With a powerful header, Puyol catapulted Spain to their first-ever World Cup final
Again serving alongside club team-mate Pique, Puyol managed La Furia Roja's rearguard with astounding efficacy, played nearly every minute of the tournament, and led Spain to their best-ever defensive record at a World Cup; Spain tallied 433 minutes of playing time after conceding their final goal of the tournament in their final group stage match against Chile, eclipsing their 60-year-old mark of 282 minutes without conceding (a record set in 1950, when Spain finished in the last four).

However it was not with his dogged defending, which had earned him the nickname El Muro (the Wall) over the years, that Puyol would be thrust into the limelight as Spain's hero in World Cup 2010, but with his offence.

Not one particularly known for goalscoring, Puyol changed Spanish history forever as, in the 73rd minute of Spain's goalless World Cup semi-final against Germany, the 32-year-old rose highest to meet a Xavi Hernandez corner kick and power the header into the back of the net, effectively sending Spain to their first ever World Cup final. With the goal, the Barca captain became the paladin of a euphoric Iberian Peninsula and the waves of elation buoyed La Roja as they went on to beat the Netherlands in the final, to be crowned world champions.

For Carles Puyol, it most certainly was a 2009-10 season to remember.

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