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Carles Puyol is Barça through and through, and his dedication to the club was on display from his first game to his last. The centre back joined the youth setup aged 17, in 1995/96, going on to play 593 matches in the Blaugrana shirt -the fourth most of any player. A one-club man, he was handed the captain's armband in 2004, and would be skipper for 10 seasons; the closest to matching this feat were Josep Samitier and Joan Segarra, with eight.
Leading by example
On October 2, 1999, Puyol debuted for the first team against Valladolid. Gradually he became a frequent fixture under coach Louis van Gaal. Despite his youth, the defender quickly became an influential figure in the dressing room, and in the 2004/05 campaign Frank Rijkaard awarded him the captaincy -taking over from Luis Enrique. Puyol led the team, but also relinquished the armband for one of the team's crowning moments, handing it to Éric Abidal for the 2010/11 Champions League final so that his colleague -who had recently overcome liver cancer- could lift the trophy.
Puyol would have to wait six seasons to win his first senior trophy. Finally on May 14 2005, a 1-1 draw with Levante away from home meant that Barça were crowned LaLiga champions. From there, the floodgates opened for Barça and Puyol, who collected a total of 21 honours in his club career: Three Champions Leagues, 6 LaLiga titles, 2 Copa del Reys, 6 Spanish Super Cups, 2 European Super Cups and 2 Club World Cups. Level with former teammate Víctor Valdés, he is the player with the seventh largest collection of silverware won at the club.
A defender with a striker's soul
Although he would establish himself as one of the best centre backs in history, Puyol started out as a goalkeeper in his town, before playing as a striker for most of his formative years. Louis van Gaal debuted him at right back, before moving him into the centre of the defence. Nevertheless, he would still score 18 goals in his 15 seasons on the first team, including a famous strike in the 2-6 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu. In 2011/12 he found the net on 5 occasions, his highest tally for a single season.
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